Thursday, October 31, 2013

NSF Grants Should Matter Even in Business Schools

Last Friday, I spoke at Texas A&M University and had a wonderful discussion at breakfast with several students from their  INFORMS Student Chapter who were wise beyond their years. Talking with speakers that they had brought to College Station every week had given them information and knowledge (and not just of the technical variety) as well as academic "street smarts."

So, they "picked my brain" about various topics and were especially interested in what I perceived as the differences between being a Professor at a business school versus an engineering school. These were doctoral students in engineering with a good background in Operations Research so they were trying to figure out, assuming that they would become academics, what kind of school would be a good "home" for them. Analytics talent is prized now in both business and engineering schools because of the demand in industry, government, and numerous other organizations, and this is great for all the quant types out there!

The students were aware that, in business schools, typically, the teaching load is higher, and that more emphasis is put on teaching. They noted a speaker (this surprised me) who told them  that the unhappiest 3 years of her life were those that she spent while a prof at a business school -- she is now at an engineering school. They also were aware (savvy, aren't they?!) that in business schools there is emphasis on publishing in what are referred to as "premier" journals whereas in engineering schools getting grants does matter and may be a necessary condition for promotion and tenure if not a sufficient one.  Let's admit it that starting salaries in business schools, which may be a bit discipline-dependent, are also higher, sometimes substantially higher, than those in engineering schools.

As a chaired professor at a business school (the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst) but one who also holds affiliated appointments in two different engineering departments at UMass Amherst, I clearly wear many "hats" and the interdisciplinary scope of my research and activities fuels my creativity and research. Also, since some of my support while a doctoral student at Brown University was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), given to my dissertation advisor at Brown, Dr. Stella Dafermos, I have always felt that getting grants, which are peer-reviewed,  is important to one's scientific recognition, plus, it allows you to do the following (of course, this depends on the size and type of grant):

1. Support additional doctoral students, which I have done and am presently doing under our NSF grant: NetS: Large-Scale: Collaborative Research: Network Innovation Through Choice project, in which we are working on envisioning and constructing a Future Internet Architecture known as ChoiceNet. This is truly an exciting project involving a multidisciplinary, multiuniversity  team of engineers, computer scientists,  and my doctoral students and me. The lead PI is my colleague, Professor Tilman Wolf of the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst. This is only one of several NSF grants that I have been so lucky to have received over my professional career. Without NSF support, I would not have started the Virtual Center for Supernetworks at UMass Amherst, nor would I have graduated as many successful PhDs as I have had, nor had amazing opportunities through its International Programs, its earlier Faculty Awards for Women Program and its Visiting Professorship for Women Program, under which I spent a great year at MIT in Engineering.

Plus, I have supported quite a few undergraduates at the Isenberg School through the NSF's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

2. Fund travel for students and others supported by the grant. Even though we may spend time in virtual worlds it is essential that we meet face to face at conferences, at workshops, and at other professional venues to exchange ideas. There is only so much $$$ in departmental travel budgets and chaired professor budgets for this activity so financial support from grants helps tremendously.

3. Supplies from the latest computers to even books can be purchased for students' and researchers' use as well as software and other materials.

4. Summer support can be acquired which allows sustained periods of time for focused research activity without distractions.

5. Recognition by one's peers that NSF support provides gives one confidence and, for a female, this is of tremendous value.  It never gets "easy" and there are always roadblocks put in your way and challenges and I say that as a chaired professor. I enjoyed the post on Nine Things Successful People Do Differently on the Harvard Business Review blog network, especially Point 6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

And let me celebrate that another colleague of mine in my Operations & Information Management Department at the Isenberg School, Professor Senay Solak, has also had an NSF grant with multiple universities since starting as an Assistant Professor just over 5 years ago. (Another colleague, Professor Ahmed Ghoniem, has been receiving funding from Qatar in terms of other grants, and, most recently, to work on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar for 2022 -- so cool!)

Plus, let us not forget that receipt of NSF grants enhances the stature, visibility, and reputation of your business school and your university!

Moreover, look at some of the fascinating projects that NSF has funded that were given to faculty at Business Schools: at the Eller School at the University of Arizona for ethics research (our Dean's alma mater), to a consortium, which includes Stanford and Haas at UC Berkeley for innovation, and even at Wharton for a workshop. Of course, the Sloan School at MIT has had many faculty receive NSF grants including the prestigious CAREER awards and even a PECASE award given to Professor Georgia Perkais, who is my academic sister, because her advisor at Brown was also Stella Dafermos, who, sadly, passed away while Georgia was her student and Professor Tom Magnanti, a good friend of Stella's, and of OR/MS renown,  took over as her advisor.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Administrators Need to Celebrate (and by so Doing Build a High-Achieving Culture)

As an academic, I speak at many different venues with audiences ranging from other academics and students to representatives from industry  and government as well as leaders and practitioners from a wide range of sectors and disciplines.

As a world traveler, I always try to learn from the people that I encounter and in many recent conversations it seems that issues surrounding administrators and their role in building communities and culture and change management have been some prime topics of discussion.

Doesn't every professional want to be part of a high-achieving organization?

Administrators, who are true leaders (see my recent post which mentioned Winston Churchill), can play a significant role in raising their organizations (whether at the department, school, or even university level and the same holds for corporations), by celebrating the achievements of the employees (from faculty to the staff to students).

Think of your favorite and most effective politician -- he/she,  before giving a speech, will engage the audience by acknowledging individuals who are present and will also recognize constituents who have done wonderful things.

At the first department meeting or school meeting of the year, besides stating what you personally have accomplished as an administrator and which you perceive as being the needed direction for the organization, recognize what others have done since the last meeting (which could have been months ago).

Putting up a slide of faculty (and other) achievements and having those recognized stand up is a small way in which to give a pat on the back. An interesting example -- my husband spent some time at a government research facility. There, the Director used some of his discretionary funds to provide gift certificates to those who had notable achievements. At meetings, people were called up in front of everyone to select an envelope with the gift certificate inside. This action recognized achievements publicly and helped to change the culture in a very positive way. People felt noticed and excited that their hard work valued.

One of the administrators at a neighboring university from UMass Amherst had a spouse who was an elementary school teacher with a button making machine (I'd like to get my hands on one of these). He would make buttons for his faculty and staff stating, for example, "I published a paper," and after the accrediting team (think ABET if you are in  engineering or AACSB if you are in business), he passed out buttons stating "We survived the accreditation visit!"

An exemplar of a leader (at the Presidential university level) was Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, about whom I have written before. He was known to give out thank you notes which included a small bill stating "the dessert is on me -- go celebrate." He also gave out lottery tickets for birthdays. Dr. Tom O'Brien, without whose leadership we would not have the named Isenberg School of Management, would send bouquets of flowers with chocolate chip cookies for the recognized faculty member's children, always accompanied for the former with a hand-written note. Do you wonder why he was so good at development (raising funds -- pretty obvious).

So, when a faculty member has an achievement (or any member of the organization), administrators from all levels should publicly recognize the achievement as well as individually in a substantive way.

This has to be done in a meritocratic way and not just for one's "buddies."   My great Swedish colleagues have inculcated this in me.

What do administrators gain for celebrating the achievements of ALL those in their hierarchical food chain?

1. Those who are recognized will increase their loyalty, will continue their high achievements, and the reputation of the organization will grow.

2. There will be greater trust -- public recognition makes for a more level playing field.

3. Workers not only work for the paycheck but want to contribute and in academia especially when research and publishing may take a long time, getting grants can be very challenging, and educating students well requires a lot of energy and imagination, kind words (not just a quick email blurb) both spoken and in writing, backed up in  a little celebratory way can make a huge impact.

Yes, getting  faculty to go in the same direction is like herding cats but, by creating a positive, supportive culture, it can be done. People will enjoy coming to work and faculty may even be in their offices (when not traveling for professional reasons) on Fridays.

I am not an administrator (yet) in the strict academic sense (although I have been given some fabulous outside offers in this dimension ....). I am, however,  the Director of the Supernetworks Center, have served, in the past,  as the Area Director for the Management Science PhD program for over a decade, and am also the Faculty Advisor for the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter.

So this Friday from 1:30-2:00PM in the Isenberg School of Management Room 112, please join us for cake and a celebration. The students (apples don't fall far from the tree) will be celebrating 3 awards that were received at the recent INFORMS conference in Minneapolis.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Howdy and Thanks to Texas A&M University for the Hospitality!

I arrived home in Massachusetts from College Station, where Texas A&M University is located, with a connection at Dallas / Fort Worth in the wee hours of the morning.

I would like to thank Texas A&M University where the greeting is "Howdy!" for its outstanding hospitality with special thanks to its award-winning INFORMS Student Chapter.

My flights to and from College Station were great and, after reading The New York Times and The Economist en route on my last leg to College Station I even read Time magazine, with the appropriate cover below. There were many "Aggies" as Texas A&M fans are known on that flight and I shared insights from the cover article with them. My flight seatmate was a student at Ohio State who was visiting friends at Texas A&M and he said that, as a high school student in Texas, they would pledge allegiance to the Texas flag.

I must admit that I enjoyed the very sunny warm weather (low 80s) as well as the hospitality and charm of College Station from the tiny airport to the friendliness of the students, faculty, and staff and everyone that I encountered. I liked the politeness as well and being called "Ma'am" in a Southern accent.

I did experience some culture shock at breakfast when I piled the fresh berries on my plate at the buffet and then next to containers of yogurt saw a big bowl of white creamy stuff, which, since I am from New England,  I assumed was plain yogurt. After mixing it with the berries and sampling the concoction I believe that I ate some Marshmallow Fluff -- so sugary but actually tasty!

The new building housing the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering was the venue for my presentation, "Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma," with pizza and drinks served. Afterwards, I got to meet more of the graduate students and very much enjoyed hearing about their research and ideas for plans for the future.

And, Professor Sergiy Butenko, who also helped with the hosting even managed (my itinerary got changed) to fit in 45 minutes of the outstanding presentation by Celia Sandys, the granddaughter of Winston Churchill.on "The Power of Words: The Inspiring Leadership of Winston Churchill," but then we had to leave since my talk was at noon.
Her presentation emphasized his moral integrity and how great leaders anticipate change and get constituents to believe in what can be accomplished, i.e., Victory. The video clips of Churchill with tapes of parts of his speech in the background were fascinating. The venue was also stunning with the students calling out in Aggie-like cheers.

She noted in her talk that, in the  aftermath of September 11th, 2001, she was inundated with letters from the leaders of the day. They all held a central message; that it was to the words and inspiration of her grandfather that they had turned to for strength and guidance when faced with the leadership challenges presented by this unprecedented trauma. "Your grandfather was a great source of inspiration and strength to me following the tragic events of September 11th" - Rudy Giuliani.

In walking back for my talk, Professor Butenko showed me the tree below where Aggie couples get engaged.

 It is different in Texas -- I saw no potholes and the building that I spoke at was simply stunning inside and was built, I was told, in 1 year. It had areas and lounges for students, beautiful labs with Dell computers for various faculty member research groups. The kitchen was stunning and there were carpets almost everywhere. The INFORMS Student Chapter Awards were prominently displayed in the hall for all to see and celebrate.
 I even met the gentleman who helps students, including graduate students,  with communications -- writing and speaking and I liked his display below.

Thanks, again,  to Texas A&M University for the great hospitality with special thanks to the INFORMS Student Chapter there. It is truly a model student chapter and, as the Faculty Advisor of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, this is a real compliment. Thanks also to Dow Chemical, which provided $10,000 in support for the Texas A&M INFORMS Chapter Speaker Series (How I wish this could be done at UMass -- any donors out there?!)  and also to the INFORMS Speakers Program for covering my travel expenses.

Somehow I managed to get TSA preferred both ways and did not even have to take off my jacket or shoes and marched to the head of the security lines.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Road Warrior and Road Scholar

My suitcase is packed and, after teaching my Logistics & Transportation class this morning, I will be heading off to the airport. Today I will have a two-legged flight from Bradley airport to Dallas / Fort Worth and then onward to College Station where Texas A&M University is located.

The definition of road warrior is, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: a person who travels a lot especially as part of his or her job. Of course, as an academic, my mode of transportation, whether to conferences or to give invited talks, is frequently by plane.

Last night, I had some concerns since I was having a difficult time printing my boarding passes on the America Airlines website and,  after contacting colleagues at Texas A&M,  was told that they had not experienced this problem before. Well, after paying about $100 extra on a ticket whose price I do not want to reveal (ouch) I managed to get seats and print out my boarding pass.

Now you may wonder, why would I journey so far to give a talk and then come back past midnight tomorrow?!

The Texas A&M INFORMS Student Chapter invited me so I have to support this award-winning student chapter (congrats on the Summa Cum Laude Award from INFORMS this year) plus I have never been to this university campus and have quite a few colleagues there that I very much respect.

Moreover, since I teach courses in Logistics & Transportation and related subjects I am also a Road Scholar (not to be confused with the freight company of the same name -- great name).

The students have prepared a great itinerary for me so I am very much looking forward to seeing everyone there.

My presentation tomorrow will be on "Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma," and this evening (it will be late for me given the time difference) I will be dining in Texas. I am being sponsored in part, also by the great INFORMS Speakers Program.

The last time that I gave an invited talk in Texas (not counting conferences) was when I spoke at SMU upon the invitation of the Dallas/Fort Worth INFORMS Chapter and I made it just in time for my evening talk! 

Soon I will be saying "Howdy!"

Interestingly, The New York Times the other day had an article on Texas A&M (TAMU) starting a new campus in Israel and it has the full support of Governor Rick Perry of Texas and the Chancellor of Texas A&M, John Sharp. They were room-mates back at TAMU!

I guess one can get a lot accomplished with such close connections.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Looking Forward to Speaking at Texas A&M in its INFORMS Student Chapter and Dow Chemical Speaker Series

I am very much looking forward to being at Texas A&M to speak this coming Friday!

Last week, one of my colleagues at the Isenberg School, Dr. John D. Wells, who is the Associate Dean for Professional Programs, and has both a Master's and PhD from Texas A&M, told me to practice saying "Howdy!" when he heard that I would be speaking there.

I was invited by the award-winning Texas A&M INFORMS Student Chapter, and since I am a big proponent of such chapters, and have also served as the Faculty Advisor to the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter for almost a decade, this was an invitation that I could not refuse.

My talk in the series is also sponsored by Dow Chemical and by the great INFORMS Speakers Program (I may be a bit biased since I served on the committee for this program and also chaired it), which I am a big fan of. At the Isenberg School, we have also invited speakers under the INFORMS Speakers Program (Dr. John Birge of the University of Chicago and Dr. Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois, to name two). INFORMS pays, upon approval,  the travel expenses of the speaker, and the host institution pays for the on-site costs. Given the distance between Amherst and College Station and a two-legged flight, I will be overnighting there. Since I have never been to Texas A&M and have quite a few wonderful colleagues there, I am very much looking forward to visiting! I also am very excited about seeing the students there.

I have starting working on my presentation, which is entitled: "Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma."
 It will be interesting to see the terrain there -- the last time that I was in Texas was at the INFORMS conference in Austin.  Prior to that Texas trip, I spoke in Dallas at SMU, courtesy of the Dallas / Forth Worth INFORMS chapter, and that experience was quite the adventure!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Head of the Charles Regatta -- The Largest Regatta in the World

Boston is a great sports town and yesterday was an amazing day for sports fans -- not only did the Red Sox win their baseball game and made it into the World Series, so many of my students will be very happy this week, but it was also the first day of the two-day Head of the Charles Regatta, which brought an estimated 300,000 rowers, friends, and spectators to the Cambridge/Boston area.

Competitors came from 19 different countries and there were so many colleges and universities represented. This was my second Head of the Charles regatta -- when I was on sabbatical at Harvard in 2005-2006 as a Science Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, I watched from the Cambridge side.

But, yesterday, we watched from the Allston bank of the Charles River and the competitors ranged in age from 14 - 85 years of age. Interestingly, at the INFORMS Conference in Minneapolis, October 6-9, 2013, I attended many business meetings and other events and at a Fora breakfast meeting, a faculty member from Drexel University sat next to me. I took one look at him and asked him whether he had been a rower. Amazingly, he had started rowing while in high school, and had gone to the Head of The Charles -- his boat beat Princeton and Harvard and everyone in his boat got recruited by the Ivy League. He rowed for Princeton and majored in architecture -- so he was learning about operations research and analytics.

My college room-mate at Brown University was on the women's crew (and an Applied Math major, no less) and now my daughter is on a crew team so that was why we were in Cambridge yesterday,

It was fabulous to see so many competitors and colleges represented from across the US!

I even saw several members of the UMass Amherst women's crew team and several of my daughter's friends from her elementary school, The Bement School, and high school, Deerfield Academy, who are on various college crew teams, were also there. Other friends came to watch from various vantage points.

Given what happened at our Boston Marathon  last April 15, there was a lot of police presence and I spoke to several officials about the heightened security.

We even saw the men's Olympic Gold medalist from Auckland, New Zealand, in an event after the Women's Collegiate 4s zip by several boats.

I love the team aspect of this sport from the rowers working in unison to the  coxswains, who are the "persons in charge of the boat, particularly its navigation and steering." They are those with the loud voices and more compact sizes. It is great to see female coxswains directing males in boats. Future, CEOs. I suspect.

We stood with fans supporting many different colleges and universities and saw boats from Bowdoin, Trinity, West Point, Clemson University, the Coast Guard Academy, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, University of Florida, Bryant University, Lafayette College, Vanderbilt, Washington University, Texas A&M, University of Chicago, Vassar, McGill University, Wheaton College, Hamilton College, Wesleyan University, Amherst College, Barry University (which won), and many other schools compete. Several course records were broken.

It was great to see the smiles on the rowers' faces after they competed in a truly special sporting event.

The logistics behind the organization of this event were incredible and the rowers had to row about 3 miles from their launches before starting their 3 mile races. Crew members are super physically fit.

The souvenir stands were fun, too.
Congrats to the organizers of The Head of the Charles for a great event and to all the competitors and coaches, of course!

All the results can be found here.

And for those who were selected to be volunteers (it seems that IT skills were in demand), for 3 hours of work, you got the gorgeous Brooks Brothers jacket, valued at $250 (one of my daughter's friends received one).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Walter Isard Memorial Volume, Disaster Relief, and Humanitarian Logistics

Who has influenced you in your research and has had an impact on your academic and professional success?

Through membership in professional societies we get to meet luminaries in our fields and, have you noticed that, many of the "giants" are actually also super nice people. In order to build a field or discipline you need followers and charisma and kindness as well as vision are just some of the attributes that make great leaders.

And two scholarly giants that I had the privilege of meeting and interacting with who, sadly, are now deceased, but lived to over the age of ninety, are Professor George Dantzig, the operations research megastar, and Professor Walter Isard, the founder of regional science.  Coincidentally, they were both, more or less, physically, my height. Of course, my doctoral dissertation advisor, Professor Stella Dafermos, the second female PhD in operations research in the world, who also introduced me to regional science through the literature and conferences, was the third immense influence on me. She passed away at age 49.

And, speaking of operations research and regional science, my most recent conference was the INFORMS Conference in Minneapolis (I posted many photos here) and my next one will be the 60th Annual North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International conference in Atlanta next month.  For the latter, I have organized a special session in honor of Professor David E. Boyce, another amazing scholar and gentleman,  to mark his 50th consecutive such conference -- incredible  and the conference program with my session can be viewed here.

I will also be presenting a paper in one of the special memorial sessions in honor of Professor Walter Isard. The paper is entitled, "An Integrated Disaster Relief Supply Chain Network Model with Time Targets and Demand Uncertainty,"  Anna Nagurney, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts; Amir H. Masoumi, Manhattan College; Min Yu, University of Portland, and it is also an invited paper for a special memorial volume in honor of Walter Isard.   Our motivation for this research stems from the fact that the number of natural disasters and their impacts are increasing across the globe, so there is a great  need for effective preparedness against such events. Also, we all remember Superstorm Sandy whose first anniversary we will sadly be marking later this month.

Manhattan without electric power October 30, 2012 as a result of the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy.

In our paper, we construct a supply chain network optimization model for a disaster relief organization in charge of obtaining, storing, transporting, and distributing relief goods to certain disaster-prone regions. The system-optimization approach minimizes the total operational costs on the links of the supply chain network subject to the uncertain demand for aid at the demand points being satisfied as closely as possible. A goal programming approach is utilized to enforce the timely delivery of relief items with respect to the pre-specified time targets at the demand points. Aspectrum  of numerical examples illustrates the modeling and computational framework, which integrates the two policies of pre-positioning relief supplies as well as their procurement once the disaster has occurred.

And, would you believe, the Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences and proponent of economic geography and renowned scholar and OpEd writer, Paul Krugman, wrote a piece in The New York Times, while many of us were at the INFORMS conference, that  I just had a chance to catch up with. The OpEd is entitled: Trends in Interregional and International Trade. Krugman  begins it with: Well, I’ve just paid my first personal price for the shutdown; I’m trying to finish a paper for the Walter Isard memorial volume, and discovered that the International Trade Commission’s invaluable Dataweb is shut down. I know, people are missing essential medical care and more, and I’m complaining about a slight academic inconvenience. But it’s a symptom. 

What a small world and how cool is this?! I assume that Krugman is contibuting to the same Isard memorial volume as I am.

Also, speaking of disaster relief and humanitarian logistics, my former doctoral student, Tina Wakolbinger, who is now a Full Professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria, and who took part with me in the AAAS Symposium on Dynamics of Disasters, along with Professors Panos M. Pardalos, Laura McLay, Jose Holguin-Veras, and David McLaughlin last February in Boston shared with me her recent great news: She is the recipient of a 180,000 euro grant from the Austrian Fund for the project: "Optimal Pricing Policies and Contracts of Outsourcing Humanitarian Logistics Activities."

I last saw Tina this past March when I taught a course at her university in Vienna on Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare.  I think that I made an impact since one of the students in my course is now interested in applying for a PhD in this area and I will be writing him a letter of recommendation.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Great Talks at the Isenberg School of Management

Great speakers provoke and inspire and we can learn so much from them. Students, faculty, staff, and guests from the community benefit immensely from invited speakers plus there is nothing like face to face time in which to exchange stories, share laughter, and, perhaps, even start new friendships.

This week has been an especially busy one at the Isenberg School of Management with many departments hosting speakers including two speakers that were hosted by my department -- Operations & Information Management. The poster above was prepared by the Isenberg School Communications office for a talk that took place last evening and was organized by the Management Department. Dr. Anita M. McGahan of the Rotman School at the University of Toronto spoke on "The Business of Creating Social Value."  She is the President of the Academy of Management, which has 18,000 members. The President of INFORMS, which now has 11,000 members, is also a female, Dr. Anne Robinson of Verizon. Great to see such wonderful leadership at the top of such professional societies!

Dr. McGahan's talk took place at the Integrated Sciences new building and the takeaways were:

1. Work on important problems (think of what you want to leave behind).

2. Create social value through your work.

3. We need new business models -- I liked hearing about innovating in reverse -- rather than having more complicated neonatal incubators use the kangaroo approach (baby on the parent).

4. We should care not just about shareholder value but about sustainable outcomes (rather than organizations).

She spoke about meeting Dr. Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners in Health, on a shuttle flight from DC to Boston and also about various new industries and products from wind energy to the Tata Nano car. She is very dynamic and interacted very well with the audience -- I estimated over 400 in attendance, including many undergrads including many students.

Dr. Detmar Straub, A Regent's Professor of the University System of Georgia and the J. Mack Robinson Distinguished Professor of Information Systems at Georgia State University, spoke this afternoon as part of the Dean's Lecture series. His talk was on "Why Top Journals Accept Your Paper." He completed two terms as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal MIS Quarterly. I had the pleasure of joining several of my IS faculty colleagues and one of our doctoral students for lunch with Dr. Straub at the University Club, which is in a building dating to 1728. The food was very good and the conversation fabulous  -- we laughed over so many great stories -- I especially enjoyed his reminiscences about various conferences.

 Dr. Robert Shumsky of Dartmouth was our previous speaker in the Dean's Lecture series. He is well-known in INFORMS and OM circles.

Also, today, the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter had the pleasure of hosting Professor Michael C. Fu of the Snith School at the University of Maryland College Park. He has degrees from MIT and a PhD from Harvard and he was fabulous. His talk began at 2:00 at the Isenberg School and we ended our conversations at 4:00PM. His talk focused on stochastic methodologies with applications ranging from financial engineering to supply chains. Specifically, he spoke on  stochastic gradient estimation techniques, which are methodologies for deriving computationally efficient estimators used in simulation optimization and sensitivity analysis of complex stochastic systems that require simulation to estimate their performance. His presentation was so clear and I loved such phrases as the "mathematically disadvantaged" and "statistically unconscious."

The photo below I took (apologies that it was not my best) after Professor Fu's presentation. My colleague from engineering, Professor Weibo Gong, also a Harvard PhD and a former doctoral student of Professor Ho's, helped in the hosting.
On November 1, we will be hosting, through the efforts of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, Dr. Les Servi of Mitre, who, coincidentally, had the same PhD advisor at Harvard, Dr. Ho, as did Dr. Fu and Dr. Gong. I have known Les since we overlapped at Brown University. Both Les and Michael are INFORMS Fellows and outstanding scholars. Dr. Servi will be speaking on social media and sports, with a focus on his work in soccer -- it should be a fascinating talk, Last time that he spoke in our series, his topic was on pirates off the coast of Africa! And he gets paid to work on such interesting projects.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Information Asymmetry, Nobel Prize in Economics, and Favorite Chidlren's Books

In a recent post I wrote about the 2013 Nobel laureates in Economic Sciences and connections to and  reflections on Operations Research.

In parallel, I have been doing research, when not conferencing and teaching, on supply chains and information asymmetry.

Of course, George A. Akerlof's paper, "The Market for "lemons": Quality Uncertainty with the Market Mechanism," published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics in 1970 is the classic in information asymmetry. And, you may recall that I wrote about believing in your work, since this paper was rejected by journals 3 times, and then was published and earned Akerlof the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001.

Akerlof is married to Janet Yellen, who has been in the news a lot lately since  President Obama has selected her to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve Bank, succeeding Ben Bernanke. She and I share the same undergraduate alma mater, Brown University, although we did not overlap in our studies. She then went on to receive her PhD at Yale in economics.

Also, the most recent paper that my team at the Supernetworks Center wrote was inspired by Akerlof's lemon paper. The paper is Spatial Price Equilibrium with Information Asymmetry in Quality, Anna Nagurney, Dong Li, and Ladimer S. Nagurney. We are completing another paper on this general theme and have authored several papers on quality and supply chains as well as quality and the future Internet.

Coincidentally, in preparing my blogpost on the 2013 Nobel laureates, I came across George Akerlof's Nobel Prize acceptance speech and I have been smiling ever since.

He begins his Nobel speech Behavioral Macroeconomics and Macroeconomic Behavior (the text is here) with: Think about Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Think about what that book would have looked like in sequential decades of the last century had Richard Scarry been alive in each of them to delight and amuse children and parents. Each subsequent decade has seen the development of ever more specialized vehicles. We started with the model-T Ford. We now have more models of backhoe loaders than even the most precocious four- year old can identify.

Can you believe it -- starting a Nobel prize speech by acknowledging a children's book and in a series which was one of my daughter's favorites as a child. When we traveled and lived n Europe we would see Richard Scarry's books in bookstores and libraries with such favorite characters as Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm in different languages. The humor, lessons, and imagination in these books we treasured and we have kept many in our collection.

Below, I feature a photo taken yesterday of some of our favorite Richard Scarry books in honor of Akerlof and his work and his wife, whom he acknowledged in his speech.

Never lose your sense of wonder and never give up! And when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Akerlof mentioned Robert Shiller's work in his Nobel speech and Shiller is sharing the 2013 Prize with Fama and Hansen -- small world!

Since Akerlof and Yellen have a son, who has a PhD in economics, and is also a professor,  I suspect that they read Richard Scarry books to him when he was a child.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mathematics of Planet Earth -- Special Issue of Computational Management Science

According to the website for Mathematics of Planet Earth MPE2013: More than a hundred scientific societies, universities, research institutes, and organizations all over the world have banded together to dedicate 2013 as a special year for the Mathematics of Planet Earth.

 The theme “Mathematics of Planet Earth” is interpreted as broadly as possible. In addition to climate change and sustainability, it includes geophysics, ecology and epidemiology, biodiversity, as well as the global organization of the planet by humans. The different topics have been classified into four themes.

The four themes of MPE2013:
* A PLANET TO DISCOVER: oceans; meteorology and climate; mantle processes, natural resources, solar systems
* A PLANET SUPPORTING LIFE: ecology, biodiversity, evolution
* A PLANET ORGANIZED BY HUMANS: political, economic, social and financial systems; organization of transport and communications networks; management of resources; energy
* A PLANET AT RISK: climate change, sustainable development, epidemics; invasive species, natural disasters.

I became aware of this great initiative last May when I spoke at the Computational Management Science conference in Montreal, Canada,  and heard from Professor Georges Zaccour that he, and Professor Michele Breton, were guest editing a special issue of the journal Computational Management Science on this theme.  Since last year I was on sabbatical and spending a lot of time at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, sustainability continues to be a major theme in my research. Plus, the emphasis on the environment in Gothenburg and in Sweden, overall, made for a perfect venue in which to work on a paper for this special issue. Our paper, Supply Chain Network Sustainability Under Competition and Frequencies of Activities from Production to Distribution, Anna Nagurney, Min Yu, and Jonas Floden, is now in press in this special issue  of Computational Management Science.

I was delighted to see the Preface to this special issue online on the journal website  The special issue, according to the Guest Editors Breton and Zaccour,  has 7 papers written by scholars having an extensive expertise in mathematical modeling and in environmental issues.The objective of this issue is to report on recent advances in modeling and in the development of computational methods for environmental issues such as global warming, pollution control, adaptation, sustainable exploitation of resources (forests, fisheries, etc(, sustainable supply chains, and more!

I expect that the hardcopy of the full issue will be produced soon since the contributions are online -- I am so looking forward to receiving my copy.

Congrats to the Guest Editors and thank you for your hard work which made this special volume possible! Also, thanks to the long-serving Editor of CMS, Professor Berc Rustem, for being a visionary.

Monday, October 14, 2013

2013 Nobel Laureates in Economic Sciences -- Reflections and Connections

This time of the year is when the Nobel Prizes get announced (and it is also the time of the year when several of our major conferences take place including the INFORMS one) so there is a lot of anticipation, drama, and excitement.

The 2013 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences are: Professors Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen of the University of Chicago and Professor Robert Shiller of Yale. They are receiving the Nobel prize "for their empirical analysis of asset prices."
Photo courtesy of TT/Claudio Bresciani/AP

What continues to amaze me is the connections between economic sciences, including computational economics,  and operations research and the management sciences, over the span of Nobel Prize recipients  in Economic Sciences. The first Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was given back in 1969 and the full list of recipients (one female to-date, Elinor Ostrom) can be found here on the official Nobel site.

For example, Eugene Fama has published in Management Science: "Three Asset Cash Balance and Dynamic Portfolio Problems." Gary D. Eppen and Eugene F. Fama; Management Science, 1971, 17(5, Theory Series), pp. 311-19.

Also I cited Fama's work in my Financial Networks book, co-authored with a former doctoral student of mine, Stavros Siokos, who actually received his PhD from UMass Amherst in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and is an extremely successful financier, based in London. We cite Fama's work in the ninth chapter.

As for Lars Peter Hansen, I crossed paths with him back in 2010, when he, Professor Andrew Lo of MIT, and David Marshall organized the Measuring Systemic Risk Conference, which took place in December in Chicago. I spoke on Financial Networks and I acknowledged Hansen on the second page of my talk. Joining me was my wonderful colleague in Finance, who was Professor Lo's doctoral student at MIT, Mila Getmansky Sherman.

Professor Shiller I have never met but I have met his colleague, Karl Case, and have written about their joint work and about NSF and entrepreneurship on this blog.

As for the only female Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences, I will never forget meeting Dr. Elinor Ostrom, when she spoke at UMass Amherst and I brought one of my PhD students with me, who is now Dr. Min Yu. Elinor would visit and work closely with my colleagues at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden where I have held  a Visiting Professorship.

Along with Professor Hans Amman, I have coedited the Advances in Computational Economics book series (started with Kluwer and now with Springer) and the Nobel laureate, Daniel McFadden, was on our editorial board even before he received the Nobel Prize and I have dined with him at one of our Computational Economics conferences. Chris Sims and Tom Sargent I also met at a Computational Economics conference.  My first book, Network Economics: A Variational Inequality Approach, was the first book in the Advances in Computational Economics book series and it continues to be my most highly-cited work. Its second edition came out in 1999.

And, of course, who can ever forget meeting Paul Samuelson, whose work I have cited since I was a doctoral student at Brown University. As for the Nobel laureate Harry Markowitz, whose work in portfolio optimization I have cited numerous times, I met him at an INFORMS conference in an elevator -- he is over a foot taller than I am!

My INFORMS colleague and fellow blogger. Professor Mike Trick of CMU, wrote last year on Shapley and Roth receiving the Nobel in Economic Sciences and connections to operations research and the management sciences.

UMass Amherst Student Chapter Hosting Dr. Michael C. Fu of Maryland

Now is the time of the year when the Fall academic semester is in full swing. In New England, it is a time of beautiful foliage, pumpkins, Fall sports and activities, and also a time of many events.

The Isenberg School has a new homepage, which you may wish to check out,  which also highlights many events and news items -- thanks so much for noting the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter's receipt of the Magna Cum Laude award from INFORMS at our recent Minneapolis conference. 

This coming Friday, the student chapter will be hosting Professor Michael C. Fu of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. This event was scheduled weeks ago, and as may happen at this busy time of the year, there may be conflicts, so apologies.

We are also circulating the announcement in the College of Engineering, since Professor Weibo Gong helped with the organization, and in Computer Science, given the topic.

I saw Professor Fu recently at the INFORMS Fellows Award luncheon in Minneapolis and it was very nice to connect in person before his visit this Friday. The students prepared the nice flier above and it is an honor to be hosting such a distinguished speaker. Professor Fu holds degrees from MIT and a PhD from Harvard. He also was a Program Director at NSF for the Operations Research Program. Besides being a Fellow of INFORMS, he is also a Fellow of the IEEE.

We will be serving refreshments prior to his talk "Stochastic Gradient Estimation: Tutorial Review and Recent Research," in the Isenberg School Room 112 at 1:30 this Friday with Professor Fu's talk taking place there from 2:00-3:00PM.

Please join us, if you can.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Resilience of Operations Researchers and Raytheon

One of the favorite comments that I received at the recent INFORMS Annual Conference in Minneapolis that I wrote about here and here was from Professor Leon Lasdon of the University of Texas Austin. As he and I were exiting the room where the 2013 INFORMS Fellows Award lunch took place last Monday he said to me: "Anna, we take a licking but we keep on ticking."

I thought that statement was simply perfect and it speaks to the importance of resilience.

Another favorite comment that  I received was  from Professor Michael Florian of the University of Montreal, who is also an INFORMS Fellow and a recipient of the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to transportation science. At the reception at the Transportation Science & Logistics Society business meeting (also last Monday), Florian and I reminisced about Martin Beckmann, (also a Robert Herman Award recipient),  one of the authors of the classic Studies in the Economics of Transportation book, who is in his mid 80s and still going strong.We talked about physical fitness and stamina and, since Florian is a skier, he said to me: "Anna, do you know what happens to skiers? They do not die, they just go downhill."

And, speaking of resiliency, one of my doctoral students, Dong "Michelle" Li, and I arrived back from Minneapolis to Amherst around 1:00AM Wednesday morning and, after only a few hours of sleep, we were off to speak at a Manufacturing Technology Networking event hosted and organized by Raytheon. The event took place at the Tewksbury Country Club (our first time there) and we were so lucky that Mr. James Capistran, the Executive Director of the UMass Innovation Institute, gave us a ride, via gorgeous route 2 with the radiant Fall foliage, in his nice new car with a voice-operated GPS.

Michelle and I were the only invited female speakers so it was essential to show up and to  give our presentations, which we did and we had a great time.Speaking of the serendipity of showing up and the importance of face time, my husband's grad school room-mate in physics at Brown University, who works now at Raytheon,  showed up to see me. What a great surprise it was. My brother also works at Raytheon so the event was extra special. The presentations were by faculty from UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, RPI, MIT, and WPI.  So many knowledgeable techies and geeks were at the Raytheon event so the questions were great. There were two parallel sessions, and my chairman also spoke in a set of sessions parallel to ours. There were about 200 attendees, which also included suppliers and Raytheon personnel even from Arizona and California.

My presentation was on "Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma." In my presentation,  I focused on some of the highlights of our latest research including findings reported in our book "Networks Against Time: Supply Chain Analytics for Perishable Products."

Michelle's presentation was on "A Dynamic Network Oligopoly Model with Transportation Costs, Product Differentiation, and Quality Competition." Her talk was based on our paper of the same name, which is now in press in the journal Computational Economics.
We managed to get a few photos taken during some of the breaks and during my presentation.

Thanks to Raytheon for a very special workshop!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Was This One the Best One Ever?! - Photos from the INFORMS Minneapolis Conference

Those of us who were at the INFORMS Annual Conference in Minneapolis, which took place October 6-9, 2013 will never forget it!

I have been going to INFORMS conferences since I graduated from Brown University but,  last year, since I was on sabbatical in Sweden, missed the Phoenix one -- my collaborators and students were there, though, in full force.

Not only was the venue of this year's conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center great with 8 miles of Sky Walks (warm, dry, and carpeted) to navigate through downtown from location to location, and with the beautiful Loring Park close by, but the talks and events kept us engaged, entertained, and informed. I would say that time was too short but that means that the conference was very successful.  I very much enjoyed such new initiatives as Coffee with a New Member and even the New Members Breakfast at which we could meet new INFORMS members.

Seeing friends and former students and colleagues from around the globe was the biggest plus and taking part in various awards ceremonies energizing and so pleasant.

The INFORMS staff and conference organizers did an outstanding job -- thank you, thank you, thank you!

Below I have posted some photos. I know that many of us arrived back home in the wee hours of the morning, but it was worth it!

The new members breakfast at which various fora (WORMS, JFIG) and societies networked
We had meetings within the meeting in the form of various journal editorial board meetings -- a great lunch hosted by Wiley for the International Transactions in Operational Research board
We interacted with the great INFORMS staff
And when the sun came out on Monday enjoyed some of the sights outdoors
We celebrated our students' achievements through various awards (student chapter, Judith Liebman, etc.)
We celebrated the recipients of various awards including the WORMS Award given to Dr. Kathryn Stecke by the President of WORMS, Dr. Laura McLay of the University of Wisconsin Madison,  and Dr. Susan Albin of Rutgers

We did more networking and catching up
We were very excited to see our latest book, Networks Against Time: Supply Chain Analytics for Perishable Products, on display at the Springer booth
We learned from fabulous plenary talk presenters  about the latest results in operations research and the management sciences and analytics
And members of my supernetworks team gave many talks
We dined together and had so much fun
As the President of INFORMS, Dr. Anne Robinson, who is also the Director of Supply Chain Strategy and Analytics at Verizon, wrote me, after I thanked her, Dr. Olga Raskina, and various members of the INFORMS staff for such a great conference: The energy level and interest in our community these days is breath-taking and I completely agree.

Until we all meet again in person (face time really matters), keep up the great work!

And for those that could not join us or just want to further reminisce and hear about other perspectives, events, and impressions, do check out the various blogsposts and social media.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Photos from the Fabulous WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Lunch at INFORMS Minneapolis

As the President of WORMS, the inimitable Dr. Laura McLay of the University of Wisconsin Madison stated, the best kept secret of our Annual INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Conference is now out and it is the WORMS luncheon.

This is always one of my favorite events and I tell my students (present and past) to get their tickets early since they sell out quickly.

This year's WORMS luncheon took place on Tuesday, October 8 in Minneapolis at the magnificent Convention Center. Below I include some photos from this event. Notice that men are definitely welcome and this year, as in many past years, Dr. Eric Wolman, one of the recipients of the George Kimball Medal (along with Rina Schneur of Verizon), was in attendance.

Below I capture the specialness of this event through photos that I took this past Tuesday.

First, thanks to the sponsors of the WORMS lunch!

Tracy Cahall of INFORMS and one of our doctoral students from the Isenberg School at the door
Smiling attendees at the luncheon tables

At the above table are several of my former doctoral students, a present student, and friends

Another highlight besides the great company and conversations plus food at the luncheon is the awarding of the WORMS Award. This year's recipient is Dr. Kathryn (Kathy) Stecke of UTDallas. Dr. Susan Albin of Rutgers chaired this year's award committee and shared with us some of the tributes to Kathy in the letters in her nomination packet.
Dr. Laura McLay and Dr. Susan Albin presenting Dr. Kathryn Stecke with the 2013 WORMS Award in the photo above
To find out more about WORMS and its various activities, please check out the WORMS page on the INFORMS website.

From communities such as WORMS and INFORMS we gain sustenance throughout the year in our busy professional lives, so do become a member, enjoy the benefits, and help us to grow and support women and men in Operations Research and the Management Sciences + Analytics!