Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Complex Societal Problems and the Serendipity of Conferences

This week I am taking part in the EURO 2024 Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, and, yesterday, I chaired the invited session: Complex Societal Problems, and also delivered a presentation on our latest research with my Isenberg School PhD student Dana Hassani and two Kyiv School of Economics colleagues: Oleg Nivievskyi and Pavlo Martyshev.

The session was excellent and papers were presented on refugee resettlement, impacts of climate change of refugee flows, healthcare entrepreneurship in rural areas of Kenya, and our work on international trade network performance under various disruptions with examples drawn from Russia's war on Ukraine.

Full information on our session can be found here.

The audience was terrific, asking many questions, and this also demonstrates the interest in the topics and the research that was presented. I am grateful to Tina Wakolbinger, a member of the conference program committee (and a former PhD student of mine) for the invitation to chair this invited session, which was part of the Humanitarian Operations track. I am very thankful to all the speakers. It was exciting to see Kash Barker, whose work with Andres Gonzales and Buket Ci, was presented by Andres.

This conference is taking place at the Danish Technical University (DTU). For many of us, who are staying in hotels in central Copenhagen,  getting there requires a commute via train and bus. The DTU campus is big and sessions are spread out across multiple buildings, which can require a trek. Lunches, coffee breaks, and snacks are provided, and there are nice exhibits. I especially enjoyed the Springer exhibit where my latest book is on display!

It is the serendipity associated with conferences that I especially love and seeing various conferees from around the globe while one is in transit, or having coffee, etc. It was such a delight to meet, on the first full day of the conference my former Isenberg School PhD students: Tina Wakolbinger, Sara Saberi, and Deniz Besik, all of whom are successful professors and Pritha Dutta arrived yesterday and came to our session. I have had the opportunity to enjoy the EJOR (European Journal of Operational Research) Editorial Board meeting, led by Roman Slowinski, with lunch provided, and to attend various sessions, including on food supply chains. Deniz Besik presented some of our latest work on  the impacts of supply chain disruptions on food quality. Semih Boz, one of our Isenberg School PhD students,  also met with us, which was great and presented a paper.

It has been lovely to encounter Anand Subramanian, Christina Phillips, Grazia Speranza, who I heartily congratulated on her receipt of the EURO Gold Medal (only the second female so honored), as well as many of the Associate Editors at the EJOR meeting, including Paolo Toth and Immanuel Bomze.

Also, what a small world. My three weeks in Europe began with the Pardalos conference in Halkidiki, Greece, and there I met two Ukrainians from Kharkiv, Tetyana and Petro, who are also at the EURO conference, which is very special. 

And we have made new friends from Athens, who are at this conference, and have been enjoying breakfasts with them.

I could not capture photographs with all the wonderful conferees - lots of discussions and chatting and hugs taking place. Super to see collaborators from Italy (but not all) including Laura Scrimali and Gabriella Colajanni plus even Annamaria Barbagallo. Coincidentally, the next conference that I will be speaking at will be the VINEPA conference in Catania, Italy in mid July. I even saw the immediate past President of INFORMS Laura Albert, but only for a brief time. I hope to meet many other conferees today.

And for my post on tips for networking, based on the panel I was on this past Sunday, click here. This panel was part of the WISDOM organized events and kicked off the conference for me in a marvelous warm way (unlike the weather).