Saturday, July 1, 2017

Excellent EURO Humanitarian Operations Conference in Beautiful Vienna, Austria

The past two days I had the pleasure of taking part in the EURO HOpe (Humanitarian Operations) Conference in lovely Vienna, Austria.  The conference was organized by Professor Tina Wakolbinger of the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), who was my PhD student at the Isenberg School of Management and received her PhD in 2007. She  is now Director of the Research Institute for Supply Chain  Management at WU and is a Full Professor. Assisting her with organizing this fascinating conference were her doctoral students, including Christian Burkart (who took my humanitarian logistics class when I taught it at WU a few years ago).

The venue was the new campus of WU, which is futuristic, and the conference took place in a building which resembles a cruise ship.

The first day of the conference focused on cross-sector cooperation in disaster operations while the second had as its theme: the ongoing refugee movement. The full program for the conference can be downloaded here. 

In addition to the conference presentations and discussions, there were delightful snack breaks, a lunch, and an incredible conference banquet with many Viennese delicacies.

I very much enjoyed seeing colleagues from numerous countries, including several from the US, Canada, Austria, Germany, Finland, Turkey (which was especially well-represented), England, Holland, Cyprus, and even Ghana!  It was great to see colleagues from the University of Michigan, from Taxes Austin, and also from the Kelley School at Indiana University.

Below are photos of several presenters and session chairs as well as panelists.

I was very pleased at the number of females that spoke and took part in this conference.

My presentation can be downloaded here.  I spoke on game theory and disaster relief. The organizers will also be posting the conference presentations, we have been told, where permission is granted.

Some of the takeaways included: the different methodologies and perspectives to problem solving in humanitarian operations; the need for a consistent taxonomy; recognizing interdisciplinarity as to research in this area, the importance of working with practitioners and including them in collaborations and conferences, as well as discussions as to the role of special journal issues on humanitarian issues, since several have been recently produced.

It was wonderful to see Dr. Burcu Balcik again and to meet Dr. Sibel Salman, with me in the photo below.
It was also lovely to meet Dr. Maria Besiou, Dr. Tina Comes, Dr. Marion Rauner (with whom I spoke about our wonderful OR/MS colleagues: Dr. Ed Kaplan and Dr. Jonathan Caulkins, both of whom hosted me at talks I gave at Yale and at CMU last year, respectively), and to meet my Twitter contact Dr. Afshin Mansouri. Seeing Dr. Luk Van Wassenhove, Dr. Gerald Reiner, Dr. Sebastian Kummer, and Dr. Bahar Yetis Kara was also marvelous! It is so impressive what the operations research community has accomplished in terms of humanitarian operations and humanitarian logistics. The passion for the subject is palpable and sustained.

I would be remiss not to include photos from the wonderful banquet in the middle of Vienna's major park and playground. We walked together to the banquet location.

The desserts were especially incredible, including megadumplings filled with apricots (which we shared).
Below is a photo of Dr. Tina Wakolbinger and me. It was also nice to see her husband, who also was my PhD student at the Isenberg School at UMass Amherst, Dr. Fuminori Toyasaki.

And, when taking the subway from the conference back to our hotel, I could not resist the poster below. I am a very proud Academic MOM who loves seeing former doctoral students, such as Professor Wakolbinger and Professor Toyasaki, thriving in their academic research and lives!