Saturday, December 17, 2022

My IFORS Distinguished Lecture and the Fabulous CLAIO 2022 Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina

I am back from Buenos Aires, where I had the great honor of giving the IFORS Distinguished Lecture (IDL) at the CLAIO 2022 Conference, which took place in beautiful Buenos Aires, Argentina from December 12-15.

Professor Emilio Carrizosa of the University of Seville in Spain was very kind in sending me the photo below from the beginning of my lecture, which was on December 13.

The venue for the conference was the stunning Infinity Building at the University of Buenos Aires with lovely atriums. I was amazed at the different countries that the conferees came from.

I would like to thank Professor Javier Marenco for all the courtesies extended to me and for all the logistics and arrangements. Thanks also to Manuela Blaum. The conference website can be accessed here.

My IDL entitled: "Human Migration Networks: How Operations Research Can Assist with Refugees and Supply Chain Network Labor Shortages,"  I dedicated to essential workers, who did so much for us during the pandemic, and to those fighting for their freedom including those in Ukraine. 


As the daughter of WWII refugees from Ukraine, I am very passionate about developing rigorous frameworks that can assist policy-makers in decision-making associated with human migration flows.

In my lecture, I emphasized the importance of multidisciplinary perspectives for addressing issues associated with human migration across national boundaries due to climate change, conflicts, violence and wars, as well as poverty and the desire of certain migrants to attain greater economic opportunities and prosperity.  I have been developing mathematical models of human migration networks since 1989 and, with a greater intensity in the pandemic,  have been working with collaborators through the Virtual Center for Supernetworks that I  founded in 2001 and continue to direct. 

Between 11 March 2020, when the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and February 22, 2021, nearly 105,000 movement restrictions were implemented around the world, according to the International Organization for Migration. Many of the migrants take dangerous routes and multiple modes of transportation, some of which are hazardous. The models that I described include various policy interventions  by governments. I noted  that the proper allocation of quantifiable subsidies by governments can lead to a societal optimum. I also spoke about multiple refugee crises now on the planet including the largest since WWII - that of the refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

My slide deck can be accessed by clicking on the link.

I am grateful to amazing collaborators with whom research on human migration networks continues - including Professor Patrizia Daniele and Giorgia Cappello of the University of Catania in Italy, Professor Ladimer S. Nagurney of the University of Hartford, as well as new collaborators, Professor Fabio Raciti, also of the University of Catania. and Professor Mauro Passacantando of the University of Milan-Bicocca. The latter two became collaborators after the wonderful ODS conference in Florence!


In addition, I  discussed models that integrate supply chain networks with labor and human migration in order to gain insights as to the potential benefits of companies' investments in attracting international labor. The models allow for different wages to be paid for various supply chain activities including production, transportation, storage, and last mile deliveries. In addition, the models permit distinct wages for domestic versus international migrant labor and also include the impacts of honesty in informing international migrants of their wages or not. Capacities on domestic labor are included to capture existing shortages in different sectors. The case study consists of one of the most expensive food products - that of truffles. The numerical results show that governments need to make sure that workers are paid the wages that they deserve.  Governments also need to make sure that international migrants are paid the same wages as domestic workers as emphasized by UN Sustainable Development Goals.  I highlighted other recent research, which establishes that companies can improve upon their profits by paying workers what they deserve to be paid. I argued for a holistic approach to supply chains and one that must include the most important resource - that of labor.


In my excitement, I mentioned my new book, "Labor and Supply Chain Networks," which will be published next month by Springer.

I was presented with an award plaque with clock, a certificate, as well as an honorarium.

I was delighted to meet faculty and students from Mexico, a colleague from Ecuador and even a friend - Professor Raghu of the University of Maryland was at CLAIO 2022!


It was an especially exciting time to be in Buenos Aires since on Tuesday, shortly after my Distinguished Lecture, Argentina beat Croatia to advance to the final match in the World Cup. 

It was extraordinary that I personally was able to have wonderful conversations with conferees from: Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Scotland, and the US!

It is truly special to be an Operations Researcher with colleagues around the globe having significant positive impact on addressing so many societal and economic problems.

The list of previous IFORS Distinguished Lecturers is available here. I am amazed at how many I actually know and I cite quite a few, including the Nobel laureate John Nash since we do a lot of game theory models for supply chains.

I would like to also express my appreciation to the Argentinians for their warmth and hospitality and the great food at the cafes and bakeries. I was even let into a lovely museum with a garden for free!

My flights on Delta, including the 10 hour ones to Buenos Aires from Atlanta and back were comfortable and on time!

I leave you with some additional photos taken while in Buenos Aires.

And tomorrow is the final match of the 2022 World Cup with Argentina versus France!

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Looking Forward to Delivering My IFORS Distinguished Lecture in Buenos Aires!

I was deeply honored to have been selected an IFORS (International Federation of Operational Research Societies) Distinguished Lecturer.

I will deliver my Distinguished Lecture at CLAIO, which will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 12-15, 2022. Information on the conference can be accessed here.

The IFORS Distinguished Lecture program started in 1999 and the full list of previous lecturers can be found here. I find it quite remarkable that I have had the pleasure of meeting quite a few Operations Research scholars on this list!

It was such a delight to receive the letter below from IFORS.

The title of my lecture is, "Human Migration Networks: How Operations Research Can Assist with Refugees and Supply Chain Labor Shortages."

I published my first paper on human migration networks, amazingly, in 1989, and the research has continued, with many wonderful co-authors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our research on human migration networks intensified, because of the additional challenges and also increasing refugee flows as well as labor shortages in many economic sectors around the globe. Even now we are working on another human migration network paper that focuses on coalitions and social welfare.

I have very much enjoyed working on my lecture. It is dedicated to essential workers who have sustained us in the COVID-19 pandemic with acknowledgment of all the freedom-loving people on the planet including those fighting for their freedom in Ukraine. 

Some of the papers that I will be highlighting in my lecture are: a paper published in the Journal of Global Optimization, co-authored with Professors Patrizia Daniele and Ladimer S. Nagurney, on refugee networks, and the paper that I wrote and which was published in Operations Research Perspectives, which integrates human migration networks with labor in supply chain networks.

I will also highlight research that we published in the IFORS journal, International Transactions in Operational Research, on policy interventions for bringing human migration population distributions in line with system optimization.

I very much appreciate that IFORS posted the statement below on Russia's war against Ukraine on its homepage.

Coincidentally, the last time that I was in Buenos Aires, which was in June 2010 for the ALIO-INFORMS Conference, the World Cup was taking place and I blogged the experience. And, now, the World Cup is again taking place, but in the month of December, and in Qatar, and I will be back in Buenos Aires! I leave you with several photos that I took in Buenos Aires.

And congratulations to Argentina for making it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup today!

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Congratulations to Niels Agatz on His Receipt of the Inaugural Stella Dafermos Award of the Transportation Science and Logistics Society of INFORMS!!

I returned a few days ago from the INFORMS Annual Meeting, which took place in face to face format in Indianapolis. The conference attracted over 6,000 delegates from around the globe. It was an extraordinary conference with numerous highlights including the awarding of the inaugural Stella Dafermos Mid-Career Award from the Transportation Science and Logistics (TSL) Society of INFORMS!

As the Chair of the Award Selection Committee, it was an honor to serve and to recognize the recipient of this award as well as to recognize the great legacy of my PhD dissertation advisor at Brown University, Stella  Dafermos, who passed away at age 49 in April 1990. I was Stella's first PhD student. She was the only female professor, at that time, with appointments in the Division of Applied Mathematics and in the Division of Engineering.

I am very grateful to Professors Richard Hartl, Hani S. Mahmassani, Amedeo Odoni, and Grazia Speranza for serving on this committee.

We had kept the recipient of this award under wraps until the TSL Business Meeting this past Monday evening at the INFORMS conference. I am grateful to the past President of the TSL Society, Mike Hewitt, and to the present President, Jan Ehmke (who traveled all the way from Vienna, Austria to the conference), as well as to the TSL Board for making this award possible. It includes a plaque and also a monetary award. Information on this award as well as others given by the TSL Society can be found here.

The TSL Business Meeting was jam-packed and it was fabulous to see so many colleagues! Jan Ehmke officiated and other awards were announced and business matters attended to. The TSL Society is flourishing and that is wonderful!

The recipient of the inaugural Stella Dafermos Award is Niels Agatz! Niels Agatz is a Professor of Last-mile Supply Chain Analytics at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and also serves as the Scientific Director for TKI Dinalog.

The following morning, Niels Agatz gave his award presentation in a special award session at the conference at which also the most recent Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award recipient spoke - Warren B. Powell. The presentation by Niels was very engaging and demonstrated the impact of his work in practice. He spoke on his work on time slot management for attended delivery in The Netherlands. The problem is very complex but fascinating. Many, beginning in the pandemic, made use of e-commerce and deliveries of food, including perishable products, to homes, and continue to do so.

I might add that Niels Agatz was promoted to Full Professor just a few days before the official award announcement so additional congratulations are in order!

Agatz has many collaborators and, in his presentation, he had a photo of them, with thanks!

I introduced Niels at the awards session and have posted the slide deck of my presentation, which acknowledges the legacy of Stella Dafermos and details some of the notable accomplishments of Niels', as outlined in the nomination letter for the award, which include multiple publications in such top journals as Transportation Science and Transportation Research B, significant service to the TSL Society, broad impact, and support of diversity.

I had spoken with Stella Dafermos' husband, Constantine Dafermos, who is Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics at Brown University, and to her son, Mihalis Dafermos, who is a Chaired Professor at Princeton University and at the University of Cambridge. They are delighted by this significant award in honor of Stella and by the inaugural award recipient.

It was also very special to have Tom Magnanti, the former Dean of Engineering at MIT, who was a great friend of Stella's present both at the TSL Society Business Meeting and at the awards session.

I close this blogpost with a slide from my slide deck that includes many photos of transportation science luminaries over the years, including of several Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement ward recipients.

Stella Dafermos may have passed away but she left many of us with working towards the highest standards that she always set supported by the great community of the TSL Society (which was in the early days the Transportation Science Section of ORSA)!

Friday, October 7, 2022

Very Much Looking Forward to the INFORMS 2022 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis - It Will Be Extraordinary!

The INFORMS Annual Meeting will take place October 16-19, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is the first face to face meeting of this conference since the declaration of the pandemic and it promises to be an extraordinary conference with thousands of conferees from around the globe!

In conjunction with this conference there are also events taking place immediately prior. I am deeply honored to have been invited to speak at the Minority Issues Forum (MIF) Workshop for Undergraduate Underrepresented Minorities (URMs) on October 15, 2022. The program has been put together by Professors Trilce Encarnación and Ruben Proaño and it is fabulous. I am very much looking forward to meeting with the undergraduates and to the exciting discussions.

The slide deck for my 90 minute presentation is complete.

The program for the MIF Workshop is below.

I am very much looking forward to the editorial board meeting on Sunday hosted by Professor Celso Ribeiro, the outstanding Editor of the journal International Transactions in Operational Research. On Sunday evening, I will be taking Virtual Center for Supernetwork Associates, who are taking part in the conference, out to dinner (and there are quite a few who will be presenting)!

On Monday, I will be speaking at an invited session on Supply Networks on a paper that was recently published in Operations Research Perspectives with the title below.

Then it will be time for the INFORMS Fellows luncheon to celebrate the newly elected 2022 INFORMS Fellows and to enjoy a wonderful meal and conversations with many colleagues. 

On Monday evening, there will be the Transportation Science and Logistics Society Business Meeting at which multiple awards will be announced, including the Stella Dafermos Mid-Career Award. This is the first time this award is being given and I am delighted to have chaired this committee for an award named after my PhD dissertation advisor at Brown University! Many thanks to the committee members! Information about this award and about Professor Stella Dafermos and her incredible legacy can be found here. I acknowledge the great support of the TSL Society President, Professor Jan Ehmke, and the TSL Society Board, in establishing this award.

The awardee will present in a special session on Tuesday morning at which the latest Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award recipient (Dr. Warren Powell) will also present. This session is just before the not-to-be-missed WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) luncheon! This is always a favorite event for many of us. Awardees of the WORMS award will be recognized there.

Monday, after the TSL Society Business Meeting, it will be time for the Student Awards Ceremony, at which INFORMS will recognize the INFORMS Student Chapters for their activities. I am looking forward to seeing officers from our UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter as well as many alums!

I am very excited about the session organized by Professor Deniz Besik on Supply Chain Networks of Critical Items at which Professor Pritha Dutta will present our paper with Dr. Besik on agricultural supply chains, recently published in the European Journal of Operational Research. This session is on Tuesday afternoon.

Also, in the same session, Professor Mojtaba Salarpour will present our paper published in the International Journal of Production Economics!

On Wednesday morning, I will be taking part in a special advocacy panel session organized by INFORMS, which will be fascinating! Joining me on the panel is the former INFORMS President Professor Ramayya Krishnan and the incoming INFORMS President Professor Laura Albert plus my UMass Boston colleague Professor Michael Johnson and Northeastern U. Professor Kayse Maass! The moderator is Dr. Kara Morgan. This is a not-to-be-missed session!

I am sure that we will build great memories from this INFORMS conference and that there will be many warm hugs and reconnections as well as the beginnings of new friendships!

Wishing everyone safe travels and see you soon! And, bright and early on Thursday morning, I will be back to teaching my Transportation and Logistics class at the Isenberg School of Management!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Extraordinary Event in Support of Ukraine Organized by the Kyiv School of Economics at the Harvard Club in NYC

A short while ago, we returned from NYC, where we took part in an event on September 17 at the Harvard Club in support of Ukraine that was organized by the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) with assistance provided by Razom for Ukraine and United24

The event included a conference in the afternoon on the theme: "The Independence War in Ukraine: Global Implications" followed by a charity dinner with the subtheme of: "The Present and Future of the Country."

The full program, which contains information on the conference sessions, with overarching themes of global security, resilience in war, energy security, as well as food security, can be found on the event page. The conference program was outstanding (it was tough to choose between the parallel sessions) with academics, executives, Ukrainian government ministers, an ambassador, thought leaders, representatives from the World Bank, and even the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine taking part.

Given the research that we have been doing for quite a few years on agricultural supply chains, I was thrilled to hear from the panel on World Food Security, which was moderated by Dr. Oleg Nivievskyi, an agricultural economist, who is Vice President for Economics Education at KSE.

High food prices were emphasized, along with the costs of logistics in Ukraine and the costs of fertilizer and fuel, plus how there is so much uncertainty now. Getting agricultural products out of Ukraine is essential to food security and just having the port of Odesa open (with the recent brokered agreement by the UN with support from Turkey) not enough. The port of Mikolayiv also is sorely needed.  In addition, the need for weapons to defeat Russia was emphasized along with sanctions. The extremely challenged farmers paid $40/ton to ship grain before the war and now the cost has risen to $200/ton.

There were opportunities to network and to chat in the elegant Harvard Club.

I'd like to congratulate the President of KSE, Tymofiy Mylovanov, and the Rector of KSE, Tymofii Brik, for the excellent organization of the conference and charity dinner, and for being incredible masters of ceremony of the event, as well as ambassadors for higher education in Ukraine and for the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine.

Even the Mayor of NYC, Eric Adams, came during the cocktail honor and gave a speech. We were delighted to see him with his entourage as he entered and exited the Harvard Club. He even shook the hand of my spouse, Ladimer S. Nagurney, who had accompanied me. Below is a photo taken by Mylovanov of Eric Adams speaking.

I have had a several year association with KSE and serve on its International Academic Board as well as on its Board of Directors. I was in Kyiv most recently in September, 2019, for a board meeting. After the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, on February 24, 2022, I was elected a Co-Chair of the KSE Board of Directors, an appointment I am deeply honored by. I continue to be deeply inspired by my colleagues at KSE for their extraordinary work, efforts, and accomplishments in wartime, which are heroic. 

I am also delighted that UMass Amherst signed a partnership with KSE and acknowledge the great efforts on this by our Director of  the International Programs Office and Vice Provost for Global Affairs Kalpen Trivedi. We expect to be announcing the first round of selected Virtual Scholars soon. More info on the partnership. 

The Chair of the International Academic Board, the Nobel laureate in Economics, Roger Myerson, gave a wonderful speech at the charity dinner.

The Nobel laureate Paul Krugman also spoke and noted that borscht is a Ukrainian dish and that Ukrainians are fighting for the freedom of the free world.

The President of Razom for Ukraine, Dora Chomiak, also spoke. Razom for Ukraine has been assisting in humanitarian relief in Ukraine for many years.

The Ukrainian National anthem was beautifully sung by the NYC Ukrainian chorus Dumka! The ambiance for the dinner was stunning and the food was delicious.

There were many additional speakers from the US and Ukraine at the dinner, who provided touching personal accounts and insights. 

It was great that several KSE IAB and BOD members could take part in the event, including Ambassador John Herbst and Yuri Gorodnichenko of UC Berkeley. Given that there were about 300 in attendance, I certainly may have missed someone from KSE! I also acknowledge how much I enjoyed speaking with Svitlana Denysenko from KSE, who has been behind the organization of many Zoom meetings that we have had with KSE colleagues during wartime.

It was heartwarming to take the photos below with KSE Rector Brik and the Director of the KSE Institute - Nataliia Shapoval.

Below are a few photos taken during the auction component of the charity dinner with Mylovanov and Brik featured below.

I especially liked the symbol of #resilience, a rooster, which was being auctioned off. The rooster figurine had survived a bombardment of a big apartment complex. It now stands for the amazing resilience of Ukrainians. Even a piece of the airplane Mriya, which has been shot down, was auctioned off.

I wish that we had had more time to chat with the many incredible individuals at this event, who came to support Ukraine, some of whom continue to be at the front lines. I look forward to a time, before too long, in which we can together mark and celebrate the end of this horrific war that Russia has been waging against Ukraine, without any provocation or reason, with global implications and suffering! As an academic, and as a daughter of refugees from Ukraine, I stand with Ukraine. Thanks to all those who participated in an event, that we will never forget! Kudos and thanks to the organizers.