Friday, June 28, 2024

The Great UMass Amherst - Kyiv School of Economics Partnership Continues with the Second Cohort of Virtual Scholars in Ukraine

Russia's war on Ukraine has caused immense damage to education, including higher education, with the destruction of universities, and disruption to scholarship and learning. UMass Amherst stepped up, in the month after the full-scale invasion of February 24, 2022, through the establishment of memoranda of understanding with the Kyiv School of Economics in Ukraine. I have been affiliated with this university for over half a decade, and have served both on its International Academic Board and its Board of Directors. In March 2022, I was elected a Co-Chair of its Board of Directors.

As part of this global partnership, 15 Virtual Scholars, all based in Ukraine were partnered with faculty hosts at UMass Amherst. 9 of these were with faculty at the Isenberg School of Management. I had the great pleasure of working with Elena Besedina and Pavlo Martyshev of the Kyiv School of Economics and with Myroslava Kushnir of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

And, I am delighted that the second cohort of Virtual Scholars, numbering 10, has now been selected. The process was very competitive and I wish that we could fund more. All of these faculty, which hail from 5 different universities in Ukraine, have been matched with faculty at the Isenberg School of Management. More information on the call for applications can be found on the Kyiv School of Economics website.

The 10 selected scholars are faculty at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the Ukrainian Catholic University, the Kyiv School of Economics, Polissia National University, and the Odesa Law Academy. Their faculty hosts are in the Operations and Information Management Department (yours truly), the Finance Department (Wenting Ma), the Isenberg Management Department (Ina Ganguli, Giuseppe (Joe) Labianca, Bogdan Prokopovych πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦, and Orlando Richard), and the Accounting Department (Orhan Akisik). The projects are fascinating and include such themes as: human resource management in Ukrainian companies during wartime, Ukrainian scientist research productivity, mobility, and collaborations in wartime, agricultural trade flows between Ukraine and Africa, post-war reconstruction of Ukrainian agriculture and entrepreneurship, and civilian-military defense supply chains. Deepest gratitude to KSE Rector Tymofii Brik, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Provost's Office, the UMass Amherst International Programs Office and Vice Provost for Global Affairs Kalpen Trivedi and Manager of Global Partnerships Eric Wirth, and Dean Anne P. Massey for the great support of this important initiative and partnership. Highlights of some of our activities can be found here with more planned for the next academic year, including another symposium.

I am thrilled that we have even published several articles and that one of my PhD students, Dana Hassani, has been collaborating with Oleg Nivievskyi and Pavlo Martyshev of KSE. Some of our papers and others that may be of interest can be found on the Supernetwork Center site.

This partnership is truly special - it helps in reducing brain drain from Ukraine and provides not only financial support but mentorship. It also is resulting in meaningful research and its dissemination plus friendships.

I am so proud of UMass Amherst and the Kyiv School of Economics for leading the way during these very challenging times.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Outstanding Pardalos 70 Conference in Greece

It has been only a few days since the outstanding Pardalos 70 conference in Halkidiki, Greece and the aura continues.

Conferees gathered from 5 continents to celebrate Professor Panos M. Pardalos on his 70th birthday. The talks were excellent (clearly, everyone worked very hard to present their best work) with many including photos and comments on what Pardalos has meant to them as scholars and as a mentor and even a friend.

Panos has supervised the dissertations of over 60 PhD students and has received numerous well-deserved honors and recognitions, including election as INFORMS Fellow and the EURO Gold Medal plus the Constantin Caratheodory Prize. His impact on global optimization, operations research, and numerous applications is profound. The organizers of this conference: Sergiy Butenko, Athanasios (Sakis) Migdalas, and Oleg Prokopyev did an incredible job in site selection, banquet and activity organization, and overall theme selection plus logistics. 

Thanks also to the Program Committee: Vladimir Boginskii, Altannar Chinchuluun, Dalila Martins Fontes, Faruque Hasan, Pavlo Krokhmal, Foad Mahdavi Pajouh, Dmytro Matsypura, Leonidas Pitsoulis, Themistocles Rassias, Mauricio G. C. Resende, and Petros Xanthopoulos for putting together such a fascinating set of single track sessions on the conference theme of "Optimization, Analytics, and Decisions in the Big Data Era." I very much enjoyed also serving on the Program Committee.  The presentations were on topics ranging from sports analytics (quite relevant with the EURO Cup now) to machine learning, complex networks, various aspects of game theory, energy and supply chain applications, and so much more! It was heartwarming to hear in many of the talks how the presenters met Professor Panos Pardalos and his impact on their lives. 

A theme that permeated the conference is that of wonderful friendships, great collaborations, and experiences. Special thanks to Mauricio G. C. Resende for kicking off the conference with his talk on his 30+ years of collaboration with Professor Pardalos. I have been proud to collaborate with Panos for over three decades and we have a new edited Dynamics of Disasters volume going to press shortly with Co-Editors also Ilias Kotsireas, Stefan Pickl, and Chrysafis Vogiatzis. Warm acknowledgments to Professor Stefan Pickl for the presentation of lovely gifts to Panos at the banquet. A very moving part of this conference was seeing a proclamation from the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences in honor of Panos in the presentation given by Tetyana Romanova on work with Petro Stetsyuk and Andreas Fischer.

Below is a collage of photos from the conference.

More information on the conference:

And it was quite remarkable to have so many Ukrainians in attendance and as speakers. Although Ukraine lost its first Euro Cup match, it did win its second one against Slovakia and Sergiy Butenko was at the match in Germany with his family.

Below is a photo of the Ukrainians at the Pardalos conference.

Wishing Professor Panos M. Pardalos wonderful experiences on his new journeys!

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Thanks to All Those Who Organize Conferences

This is going to be a very busy but exciting summer with many conferences to present at.

It takes a lot of time and effort to organize a successful conference from the venue selection to the invitation of keynote and other speakers, the organization of exciting sessions, and, of course, the various social and networking events and even panels. 

Conferences allow for the formal exchange of the latest research and also for many encounters, often occurring with serendipity. Friendships can even be made and wonderful memories established. It is great that, after a multiyear hiatus due to COVID-19, conferences are now taking place in person and with great enthusiasm!

Conferences can be huge or smaller and more focused and all play important roles.

In the next month alone, I will be giving talks at conferences in Greece (at the conference in honor of Pardalos with many friends in attendance), Denmark (at the Euro Conference, at which I will see quite a few of my former PhD students, who are now successful professors), and Italy (at the VINEPA Conference).

Thankful to be an invited speaker at the VINEPA (Variational Inequalities, Nash Equilibrium Problems and Applications) Conference in Catania, Italy. This conference will focus on some of my favorite methodological tools. 

Many thanks to the organizers of this conference. I have published journal articles with all the organizers, except for one!

Talks that I will present at the first 3 conferences have now been prepared. Deniz Besik of the University of Richmond will deliver a paper on our latest work at the Euro Conference in Copenhagen and is finalizing that presentation. I am thankful to my excellent collaborators, including colleagues at the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) in Ukraine as well as my Isenberg School of Management PhD students.