Monday, October 18, 2021

It's Official - Announcement of Stella Dafermos Achievement Award in Transportation Science, Thanks to TSL Society of INFORMS!

This morning the business meeting of the Transportation Science and Logistics (TSL) Society of INFORMS took place in a virtual format. There were over 100 participants, with even Norway, Germany, and Israel represented!

I'd like to thank the President of TSL, Professor Mike Hewitt, for running a very professional, and swiftly moving, meeting at which there were many wonderful award announcements and professional updates.

It is now official - I have known about this for months but had to be quiet until the announcement today. 
I am delighted that the TSL Society is recognizing my PhD dissertation advisor, Professor Stella Dafermos, who, sadly, passed away in April 1990 at age 49, with an award in her honor - Stella Dafermos Achievement Award in Transportation Science. I was her first PhD student

I will be chairing the first award committee and am deeply moved and honored.

I'd like to sincerely thank the President and the Board of the TSL Society for recognizing this amazing female trailblazer and role model in this significant way.

I was asked to prepare a short speech highlighting her contributions. 

Stella made herstory/history, in many respects.  She was the second female recipient of a PhD in Operations Research in the US and was the first female Full Professor in Engineering and in Applied Mathematics at Brown University, which she achieved in 1982.

Her 1980 paper, "Traffic Equilibrium and Variational Inequalities," published in the INFORMS journal, Transportation Science, was among the list of 12 most impactful papers in the journal over its 50 year history, as of 2016. All these classic papers can be downloaded for free on the above link provided.

Stella Dafermos had the highest standards when it came to scientific research.  She was guest editing a special issue on Network Equilibrium of Transportation Science, when she passed away, so Professor Amedeo Odoni of MIT and I completed the editorial process and we also published an In Memoriam to Stella in the special issue.

As I said in my speech this morning, "One wonders how much the world has missed because of her untimely passing."

I leave you with a photo of  Stella with Professor George Nemhauser that I took in Tokyo at the Mathematical Programming Symposium, August 28 - September 2, 1988. Stella loved conferencing and I enjoyed travel with her very much as well as publishing with her in many journals, including Operations Research and Mathematical Programming as well as Transportation Science, among others.

When I informed Stella’s husband, Dr. Constantine Dafermos, the Alumni-Alumnae University Professor Applied Mathematics at Brown University,about the Stella Dafermos Achievement Award, he responded, “I am delighted, moved and also – on behalf of Stella – honored.” “I feel that establishing the prize is a major service to your field, as it will serve as a recognition of the contributions in the early days and as a reminder that women were among these contributors.”

Let's continue to do our very best to uphold the highest standards that she set.