Sunday, September 30, 2012

What is Your Worst Flight Experience -- Can You Beat Gary Shteyngart's?

I fly a lot as many academics do.

I enjoy travel tremendously and have lived in several European countries and am presently back in Gothenburg, Sweden, as a Visiting Professor.

I do, however, tend to favor certain airlines, not only because of their frequent flier benefits, but also because of previous positive experiences and, if I may say, "service." Of course, there are also tricks such as avoiding certain airports, packing up the right snacks, upgrading to a more comfortable seat, etc.

Just this past Tuesday, I had a wonderful flight on Delta from Boston Logan to Amsterdam Schiphol and the food was delicious. I have been doing this flight regularly to get to Gothenburg but did manage even a transit through Heathrow last March, which was not bad given the new terminal E -- glossy with good food and shopping.

Gary Shteyngart in a piece for The New York Times writes about his recent 30 hour nightmarish, Kafkaesque trip across the Atlantic on flight 121 from NYC to Paris on American Airlines (that is how long it has taken me to get from the East Coast of the US to New Zealand).

It was a horrific journey and I give him a lot of credit for sympathizing with those who were crying and who are older and could not make it to various gates in order to get onward with their journey from hell after they finally landed in London (although they should have been in Paris), and  after having to return to NYC after being mid-way across the Atlantic (something about the altimeter not working -- one does not want to end up swimming with the Altantic salmon).

It took us 6 and a half hours this past Wednesday from Boston to Amsterdam and it took him 30 hours on American Airlines from NYC to Paris, "compliments of American Airlines," with a bus tour in Heathrow. Note -- he and the other suffering passengers were trying to make it to Paris!

When the passengers on his flight broke through the barriers in London, I had a feeling of deja vu, since last October I had a similar experience, but in Paris, which I wrote about. I felt like Tom Hanks in the movie, The Terminal.

In a recent post I wrote about the importance of competing with quality and The Economist has a great article on The magic of good service.

As for my worst travel experiences (I won't name the airlines):

1. I had a Sydney to Sydney flight. It was the pilot's birthday and we lost an engine over the Pacific, so after several hours after taking off from Sydney we made it back to Sydney. At least we were treated to a lavish turkey dinner. The next day, many passengers had switched to Qantas so our plane was almost empty and we could stretch out and the news made CNN but we did eventually make it to LA.

2. About 3 years ago I was to give a plenary speech in Auckland, New Zealand. After crossing the US, we were stuck on the tarmac at LAX because of really bad storms for 4 hours. I got to know the stewards and stewardesses quite well chatting with them in the back of the plane. Finally,  after about 12 hours plus of "travel" I was finally over the Pacific. Auckland is fabulous and the trip was still worth it as was the conference!

3. Flying from Ithaca Airport to Bradley Airport (Hartford-Springfield) when we even had such direct flights, our wheels would not go done  on one of those charmingly named Fokker planes. I had just proven a theorem and was finishing up writing a paper so in a weird way I was "happy.."

The passengers on the plane were completely silent when the pilot announced that our wheels would not come down and we kept on circling and circling and dumping fuel. Bradley airport  was cleared and I saw bright yellow fire trucks lining up.

I knew that this was not a good sign.

Somehow we magically landed and then my husband told me that they were serving refreshments for the "survivors of the victims."

I had been flying to Ithaca regularly since I had been serving on the National Allocations Committee for the Cornell University Supercomputer Center (the good days).

That was the last time I ever got on a Fokker plane.

I'll save more flight stories for another day.

Happy travels!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Nordic Book Fair in Gothenburg in Fabulous

I arrived in Sweden just over 48 hours ago and today we were treated to some lovely sunshine.

I just returned to my office, having spent some time at the Nordic Book Fair.

It is the largest book fair in the Nordic countries and is taking place September 27-30, 2012 at the Exhibition Hall in Gothenburg. Gothenburg is the second largest city n Sweden, after Stockholm.

At least one Nobel laureate attends this book fair, each year, and, typically, it is a Nobel laureate in literature, although others have also come to this major event. Here is the list of notables who have been here  in past years. It will be interesting to see whether I can identify someone very special in town over the next few days, which should be more bustling with intellectual life and culture than ever.

The exhibition hall is located close to the amusement park with the large ferris wheel and just a few blocks past one of my favorite destinations in this city -- the museum of art.

One of my colleagues at the School of Business, Economics and Law gave me his book fair pass today, which he had received from his publisher.

First, as I approached the exhibition hall I was struck by the huge lines of elegantly dressed people -- yes, there are still those that love to read books.

I went right in with my pass, got a stamp on my hand, and entered the huge hall with areas for different types of books, books from different countries, children's books, and even an Amnesty International exhibit.

This being Sweden, there was a large cafeteria set up, discussion groups taking place, and, best of all, the exhibits of books, and even cards, all sorts of paper products, and gift items.

However, I did not find many technical books, but perhaps I just did not find the right location.

I took a lot of photographs and will be posting them in a few days.

I also did not find books in English but that did not stop me from purchasing some children's books in Swedish to give to one of my colleagues here in Sweden. Some of the educational toys and puzzles also looked amazing.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Back in Sweden and Loving It with New Paper Published and More

I suspect that I must have some Viking blood in me.

Although my heritage (and first language) is Ukrainian, there is something about Sweden that makes me feel very welcome and "at home."

I arrived yesterday, having flown from Boston Logan through Amsterdam Schiphol, and, amazingly, on the leg over the Atlantic I stretched out over 4 middle seats (felt as though I was flying first class).

This morning, I was already greeted by -- "you are back!"  by my favorite clerk at my neighborhood 711 in Gothenburg and by hugs from my colleagues at the School of Business, Economics and Law. This is my third extended time in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2012. I was here for two weeks in March and for the entire month of June.

The weather now is cool and wet (some say that it comes from London) but I can attest to the warmth of the people and the great coffee and food plus all the cultural activities and the fabulous ambience!

For lunch today at our school cafeteria there was the famous Swedish pea soup, a salad bar with beets, and lamb and pork sausage with sweet potato puree. Plus, I cannot resist the dark chocolate here.

Yesterday evening, the barista at my favorite (French) cafe treated me to an extra chocolate macaron.

No problems with jet lag -- my secret is to walk for hours and I did just that after arriving yesterday.

Plus, my first paper that acknowledges the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, where I am now a Visiting Professor, has just been published in the International Journal of Production Economics. The paper is on the design of medical nuclear supply chains.

I have blogged about the challenges of this highly complex supply chain, of relevance not only to healthcare but also to issues of security.

It feels great to have this paper published and how fitting to get the news on my first day back in Gothenburg!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Competing with Quality

In a recent blogpost, I wrote about time-based competition, and how supply chain network firms could gain a competitive advantage through quantifying the time associated with their supply chain network activities from production through delivery to their customers and how they could compete with time.

Quality is another dimension that is essential to excellence whether in the product or the services domain.

Just last weekend, my husband and I drove through the countryside to one of our favorite breakfast places, located in Ashfield, Massachusetts, close to a beautiful lake, where we purchase the best baguettes outside of Paris. We had been there several times before but this time when it took almost an hour to get our eggs and toast, it was clear that something had happened to the quality of service.

I watched the waitress, who,  rather than bringing a full order to a table, walked back and forth to just deliver a single cup of coffee at a time. Was this a work slowdown that we were experiencing  or some interesting work dynamics? As someone who works on optimizing business and other processes and really cares about efficiency, this was painful to watch and our stomaches were growling. I, finally, went up to the waiter, who was responsible for the customers in the other room,  and put in our order.

The displeasure was notable and once the order finally arrived the manager came by and said that we would not be charged for our breakfast. Indeed, the quality of the experience was so low, that the only fair price was ZERO! Of course, we tipped the waiter and the manager saw this.

We have been doing a lot of research on supply chain network competition and that was the major theme in the Supply Chain Network Economics book that I wrote while I was a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellow at Harvard University on my previous sabbatical.

How firms compete not only on the differentiated products that they produce but also on the quality of their products and how the underlying network economics of the competition evolves and leads to prices, quality levels, and product flows, is a topic that has fascinated me and my students lately.

Indeed, quality is emerging as an important feature/characteristic in numerous products, ranging from food to pharmaceuticals  to durable manufactured products such as automobiles to high tech products, including microprocessors and even services associated with the Internet. It has been argued that firms, in reality, do not differentiate their products to make them different, or to give consumers more variety but, rather, to make them better so that consumers purchase the firm’s product. Moreover, although the differentiated product may even cost more to produce, it may result in higher profits since consumers may be drawn to such products. Hence, quality is implicit in product differentiation.

In a recent paper, "A Dynamic Network Oligopoly Model with Transportation Costs, Product Differentiation, and Quality Competition," Anna Nagurney and Dong Li, which we will be presenting at the upcoming INFORMS conference in Phoenix, Arizona, and at the North American Regional Science Association Conference on Ottawa, Canada, we developed a supply chain network oligopoly model with differentiated products and quality levels. The framework is that of Cournot-Nash competition in which the firms compete by determining their optimal product shipments as well as the quality levels of their particular products. In addition to the model development, we obtained stability analysis results, and also proposed a discrete-time algorithm for the dynamic tracking of the continuous-time trajectories of the firms’ product shipments and quality levels over time.

The static and dynamic network models that we constructed in this paper generalize former models in several
significant ways, while retaining the spatial component in that:

(1). We consider product differentiation;
(2). We incorporate quality levels associated with the individual firms’ products, as strategic variables, along with the product shipments, and we include the associated total costs as well as appropriate demand price functions at the demand markets, and
(3). We capture the critical transportation costs associated with linking the production side with the demand markets via a network.

In addition, we provided both qualitative analysis as well as an algorithmic scheme, along with numerical examples, which is made possible through projected dynamical systems theory, which can handle constraints and the associated discontinuities, unlike classical dynamical systems theory. Projected dynamical systems was the topic of the book that I wrote with Dr. Ding Zhang. It was the second volume in the International Series in Operations Research & Management Science.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Operations Research Tops in Lifetime Salary Rankings

Those of us who work in operations research and related disciplines do it because we love what we do -- what could be more exciting than solving fascinating real-world problems and also, hopefully, doing "some good," through the process, as well, whether as professors, researchers, consultants, or more applied professionals from logisticians to market and financial analysts to computer programmers and data scientists.

Now The Telegraph, the British newspaper, is reporting that Operational Research (this is how the British spell Operations Research)  is also among the top lifetime earnings careers!

See more on this great news on this link.

According to The Telegraph:  The salary shown is the average from graduation to age 65 of people with that degree, based on starting data from Higher Education Statistics Agency, and continuing lifetime salary data from the Office of National Statistics. Starting salaries of people who study part time are excluded.  The data are from the 1.5 million students who have responded to a University leavers' questionnaire over the last five years ( Where data is more than one year old it is RPI adjusted). Data compiled by

Interestingly, the only other business type degree that made the top ten list was that of industrial relations.

 I might add that, personally, I have an example of one such super success story and with a British connection. One of my former doctoral students, Dr. Stavros Siokos, with whom I co-authored the Financial Networks book, is now the CEO of Sciens Capital Management, and is based in London, England.

He has told me that he attributes part of his success to his knowledge of operations research and the management sciences and he received his PhD in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from UMass Amherst. I chaired his doctoral dissertation committee.

It is important to note that in various countries operations research / management science may be housed in Business Schools or in Schools of Engineering, sometimes with such programs on the very same university campus.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Delicious Surprise of Chocolates

I received a surprise package on Saturday. It was a box with Godiva chocolates and the truffles were so visually stunning that I had to photograph them..
Four of the truffles have already been consumed. Who would have thought of making red velvet cake truffles, tiramisu truffles, and even creme brulee' truffles? Someone at Godiva is very creative and the truffles are delicious!

Many thanks to the sender for such a wonderful gift!

Friday, September 21, 2012

What We Learned from a Big Data Decathlete and Isenberg Alum

Today, the UMass Amherst INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Student Chapter had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Davit Khachatryan, of  PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) from Arlington, Virginia.

He received a PhD from UMass Amherst with a concentration in Management Science at the Isenberg School of Management just 2 years ago and has worked on some fascinating projects.

His presentation today at the Isenberg School, "Show Me the Data: My Experience as a Statistical Consultant," captivated the audience, which included undergrads, MBAs, and graduate students from both the College of Engineering and the Isenberg School.

Big data is a very hot topic these days not only because of the volumes that are being captured from RFID technology, ATMs, cell phones, social media, etc., but also the cost of storing data has really dropped from only a few years ago, so huge amounts of data are now available for analysis, if one can make sense of the data.

He talked about the cost of working with real data is that real data is dirty and that a large part of the time devoted to a project typically entails cleaning up and organizing the client's data so that one can then get to the interesting work of modeling and predictive analytics.

Clients now want reusable, robust, and automatic solutions, rather than a 1 time solution. He spoke a lot about using SAS and SQL and the importance of computer programming.

In addition, he spoke about testing models that clients use and the existence of  "model governance" boards in corporations that check the models.

The applications that he discussed (anonymized, for obvious reasons) included two in healthcare and one in finance -- catching whether rules that are in place work for "anti-money laundering" for a bank. Interesting, when he programmed the rules and ran the model over a long time horizon's worth of data the results differed from what the bank had caught in terms of such transactions. I loved the idea of forensics in this application domain.
Dr. Khachatryan emphasized the importance of managing relationships with clients, the importance of communication and writing skills, and also that a lot of work that needs to be done is not necessarily easy or fun.

His one hour presentation began at 2PM with a nice reception (and lunch) preceding it. I left at about 3:45 and the discussions were still going strong.

It was a terrific educational experience hearing about what it takes to be a data decathlete (knowing multiple regression, understanding time series, knowing about neural networks, being adept at computer programming, listening carefully to clients' needs,  building bridges with clients, and being a good team player).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Operations Management and Supply Chain Network Theory -- Now Online

I am starting to pack for my trip back to Sweden next week and this time around I will be taking warmer clothes than I needed for my stay there this past June.

I am very much looking forward to being back in Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden, and to contributing to a course in Contemporary Business Administration Research at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg.

The supervisor for the course has offered to have a lot of water and coffee ready since, when I forwarded my lecture slides to him, he responded by saying that he has never seen such a large one. Perhaps my students will need the refreshments more than I will.

I will be lecturing on "Operations Management and Supply Chain Network Theory" and I expect many interesting discussions with the students who represent different disciplines of business administration.

I will be covering not only some of the history of operations management but also some fundamentals of methodologies, including game theory, and a wide range of applications from food supply chains to sustainable fashion supply chains and sustainability, in general.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Scenes from Deerfield Academy and the Deerfield Craft Fair

There is nothing like the Deerfield Craft Fair to mark the "beginning" of Fall in New England and it took place this past weekend under sunny skies and a pleasant breeze.

This venue, which attracts craftsmen and craftswomen from far and wide, is not to be missed and I was especially looking forward to it since next week I will be back in Sweden and I wanted to bring some souvenirs for the staff there that have been so warm and welcoming to me at the University of Gothenburg, where I am a Visiting Professor of Operations Management.

The craft fair did not disappoint but, first, my husband and I took a stroll through Deerfield Academy, which our daughter graduated from last May. As always, we were treated to many greetings from the students, who are so polite (which I love) and even from parents who were at the varsity field hockey game, and even teachers. We had spent two Falls watching our daughter's varsity field hockey games so we were a bit nostalgic, now that she is in college.

And for those of you who read the "popular" press, you probably know who else was in town, which we had suspected, given certain vehicles. Our intuition, was, indeed, correct.

Another special aspect of Deerfield, besides the beauty of the landscape, is its relatively sheltered and private ambience.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our INFORMS Student Chapter Does it Again -- Magna Cum Laude Award

One of the best parts of being a Faculty Advisor of  our INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Student  Chapter is seeing the students grow professionally, socially,  and personally.

This is my ninth year serving as the Faculty Advisor of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter and we have hosted not only amazing speakers from Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America, from academics to United Nations employees to top executives of major corporations, but have also had numerous social activities, including our famous end of the semester parties with international cuisine.

Our student chapter was also heavily involved in organizing the First Northeast Regional INFORMS Conference that was held at UMass Amherst in May 2011.

Each year, in early September the members elect a new slate of officers. These students thrive in their leadership roles as President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Webmaster and this year two new roles have been created, due to interest and need -- two events coordinators.

The students also support one another and serve as sounding boards for research and for preps before presentations at conferences, including, of course, the Annual INFORMS Conference.

It has been such a joy to see this community of students work together to build up the chapter and, once they graduate, through this chapter, they have made lifelong friends.

Some of our former members are now tenured Associate Professors and one, Dr. Tina Wakolbinger,  is already a Full Professor! Tina, who was then a doctoral student in Management Science at the Isenberg School of Management, and whom I had met while I was a Distinguished Fulbrighter at the University of Innsbruck in Austria,  was instrumental in reestablishing the chapter with me back in the Fall of 2004. Tina contributed to the INFORMS Best Practices Guide for Student Chapters  and was also recognized for her work with the Judith Liebman Award of INFORMS as was another doctoral student of mine and member, who is now an Assistant Professor, Dr. Patrick Qiang.

Yesterday, on a Sunday, no less, we heard that our UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter will be recognized for its activities with the Magna Cum Laude award at 2012 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.

We heard the great news from Dr. Olga Raskina, who is the VP of Chapters/Fora.

This year, for the first time, there will be a special Student Awards Ceremony and it will take place prior to the Student Reception, on Monday, October 15, at 7:30PM in the Regency Ballroom at the Hyatt Hotel in Phoenix. Previously, the awards were given out at a breakfast.

Many of our present and past Chapter Officers will be in attendance. This is the sixth year in a row that the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter has received either the Summa Cum Laude or the Magna Cum Laude Award, being recognized for its activities in each year that the award has been given. Both the students and I are thrilled by this great news. Above I have posted a photo of the recent election meeting of the student chapter.

More information on how to start a student chapter and tips on making it successful can be found on this INFORMS page.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Wonderful UMass Amherst Faculty Convocation

I enjoyed today's UMass Amherst Faculty Convocation at which several of our distinguished faculty were honored and we also got to hear our new Chancellor, Dr. Kumble Subbaswamy, give a speech, which was eloquent and very well-received. Some highlights have appeared already on

I took some photos at the convocation and prior to it as the faculty were lining up and then were marched around campus -- from an operations research point of view, we definitely were not routed in the most efficient way but it gave us time to chat with one another.

It was nice to see some Isenberg School of Management colleagues and faculty from across campus, including the College of Engineering at the event.

After the convocation, we were treated to a delicious lunch that included sushi and custard fruit tarts in chocolate  cups.

The Faculty Convocation was started in 2005 by then Chancellor, Dr. John Lombardi, and it has become an annual tradition.

In 2013 we will be marking the 150th anniversary of UMass Amherst, quite the accomplishment, and it is nice to see so much construction of buildings taking place on campus.

News from the Virtual Center for Supernetworks -- Fall 2012

Communications matter and that is one of the reasons of the growth and popularity of social media.

Being informed also matters as does getting the news out -- as researchers we know that if we don't publish our results and also present our research at seminars and conferences, noone will know what was accomplished and science and our disciplines will not grow.

In 2001, I established the Virtual Center for Supernetworks at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. It  has been an amazing journey working with so many collaborators and students and seeing Center Associates, even undergraduates, contribute in such meaningful ways to both research and our many activities. We have also had the honor and pleasure of hosting international visitors and numerous guests in various Speaker Series.

I am pleased to announce that the Fall 2012 Supernetwork Sentinel is now available. The Supernetwork Sentinel is our newsletter and the latest issue can be downloaded in pdf format here.
It is published in Falll, Winter, and Summer editions and all of our newsletters, which provide quite a historical overview of our center activities can be viewed and downloaded here.

Thanks for the support!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

International Researchers Welcomed to a Palace Reception with the Mayor

Soon I will be back in Sweden and I am very much looking forward to being back in what has become my second home. In 2012 I was appointed a Visiting Professor of Operations Management at the University of Gothenburg and have already had two extended visits there.

My lectures on Operations Management and Supply Chain Network Theory that I will be giving as part of a PhD course in Business Administration there in early October are completed. I really worked hard on them and very much enjoyed the process. I will presenting this material at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the university.

Today I received a wonderful invitation from Gothenburg. Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm.

The city of Gothenburg will be hosting a reception for international researchers. This certainly is a wonderful way in which to make us feel welcome and to also have opportunities to network with other researchers.

We will even get to meet the Lord Mayor, Lena Malm.

The reception will be taking place at the Dickson Palace, which is in a stunning building that I have passed by on my previous visits to the School of Business, Economics and Law.

The palace is featured in the invitation above.

The palace was built by Oscar Dickson and his princess from Greece in 1859. The house served as an apartment to the family, with its 3 floors and over 30 rooms.

The building is situated at the corner of Parkgatan and Södra vägen, just next to the city garden “Trädgårds-föreningen” and the big avenue “Kungsportsavenyn in the centre of Gothenburg.

The Swedes know how to welcome with style.

Advice from a Fellow Spotlight Scholar on Choosing Grad School and a PhD Advisor

It certainly is nice to see so many new faces on campuses from freshmen to new graduate students!

This is now the time of year that those who are college seniors are starting to think about their options after graduation.

Some who have decided that they truly want to pursue a PhD are wondering where they should apply to grad school and what the process is like.

This blog post was inspired by a query from one of my husband's colleagues, who has a PhD, and his son is a college senior who is seriously considering pursuing a PhD. The dad's  questions ended up with me because of the great resources that I have in terms of colleagues at UMass Amherst.

My husband actually  suggested that Dr. Thayumanavan, who is a chemist, and renowned for his work in clean energy science and the development of affordable fuel cells, would have some great insights.

Dr. Thai, for short, is also a neighbor, and he did not disappoint. He is the first UMass Amherst Spotlight Scholar, honored for his work on clean energy. I had the great honor of being selected as the most recent (tenth) Spotlight Scholar and it felt great to represent the Isenberg School of Management.

Dr. Thai's advice is so good and, since I really care about students and having them succeed in doctoral programs, here it is:

Typically, my advice for my own undergrads looking for grad school is the following:

1) Look for schools that are appropriate based on your GPA, GRE scores, etc. - then apply for a couple of schools above that level and a few schools right at that level and a couple of schools that you will definitely get in.

2) In choosing schools, go through the faculty research websites, look at their 'recent' publications, look at where their students ended up and where you want to be in the future, and then figure out the groups that you want to research with.  Then, make sure that you choose a department that gives you at least two or more options.   Do not go to a department based on just one faculty member, because you might find after you go there that your personality is not a good match for that person, etc...

3) I think these are good starting points.  Then, he can choose the school once he gets admitted in a few of them, because they all give opportunities to visit on their dime.  The visit will give some very good impressions about his desires/needs vs. what the schools offer.

I hope this helps.

S. Thayumanavan
Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Massachusetts
710 N. Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA   01003-9336

And for some more great advice -- on choosing a good academic family -- with advice that is terrific, be sure to read Professor Laura McLay's post.

For reflections on my academic Mom, click here.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Our Highly Downloaded Blood Supply Chain Network Paper is Now Available for Free Download -- Thanks to Computational Management Science and Springer

I do like it when a journals and publishers are proactive and innovative.

It also feels good, as a researcher, that the papers that you write and are published are actually read!

The paper, "Supply Chain Network Operations Management of a Blood Banking System with Cost and Risk Minimization," that I co-authored with my doctoral students, Amir H, Masoumi, and Min Yu, is now one of the most highly downloaded articles in the journal Computational Management Science.

And Springer, the journal's publisher, has made the article available for free download.

Min Yu has received her PhD, since the article was published, and is now an Assistant Professor and Pamplin Fellow at the Pamplin School of Business at the University of Portland in Oregon.

Amir and I also co-authored the paper, Supply Chain Network Design of a Sustainable Blood Banking System,which appears in the book,  Sustainable Supply Chains: Models, Methods and Public Policy Implications (2012), T. Boone, V. Jayaraman, and R. Ganeshan, Editors, Springer, London, England, pp 49-72.

In these papers, we use some of the ideas on generalized network models going back to the work that I did on dynamic spatial price equilibrium models with gains and losses with Jay Aronson in which the product flow volumes  can change over space and time because of product perishability (losses) or successful investments (gains).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Congrats to the 2012 INFORMS Fellows and the RSAI Fellows!

Being elected a Fellow of a professional society is a sizable recognition and achievement.

Different societies have different rules regarding who can nominate someone for a Fellow Award and what criteria are used for nomination and selection (even who can or cannot nominate, sometimes).

For example, in 2007, I was elected a Fellow of the RSAI (Regional Science Association International), and was the only female elected that year, but I was not the first female and followed in the footsteps of my dear friend and colleague, Karen Polenske of MIT, with whom I have explored, because of conferences and workshops even exotic St. Petersburg. To follow in the footsteps of Professor Martin Beckmann, who was on my dissertation committee at Brown University and whose seminal book, Studies in the Economics of Transportation, with McGuire and Winsten, set the bar for transportation research, Professor Walter Isard, the founder of the field of regional science, Professor David E. Boyce, a true mentor, gentleman, and scholar, and also INFORMS Fellow, and Professor Jean Paelinck, who has published over 55 books, and 300 refereed journal articles (now, this is being productive) and speaks numerous languages, is quite the honor. These true greats were elected in 2002, the first class of RSAI Fellows. Professor Isard passed away at age 90 just a few years ago.

Since my election, I have served on the RSAI  Fellows Selection Committee and have also chaired it. RSAI Fellows are recognized for their research and previously elected Fellows vote but cannot nominate someone.

INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) just announced the class of 2012 elected Fellows and it is a great list:

  • Guillermo Gallego, Columbia University
  • Bezael "Ben" Gavish, Southern Methodist University
  • Daniel Granot, University of British Columbia
  • Patrick Harker, University of Delaware
  • Michael N. Katehakis, Rutgers Business School
  • Karl Kempf, Intel
  • Ramayya Krishnan, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Richard P. O'Neill, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Rakesh Kumar Sarin, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Yves Smeers, Université Catholique de Louvain
  • Marius M. Solomon, Northeastern University
  • Sridhar Tayur, Carnegie Mellon University. 
So congratulations are in order!  The Fellows will be formally inducted during a luncheon at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix this fall. The rules for INFORMS Fellow nominations are here.

 The newly elected 2012 RSAI Fellows are below:
  •  Brian J.L. Berry, The University of Texas at Dallas, USA
  • Ronald E. Miller, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Stuart S. Rosenthal, Syracuse University, USA
  • Yves Zenou, Stockholm University, SWEDEN.
It is also a terrific list of recipients.
The RSAI awards ceremony will take place at the annual meeting, which will be in Ottawa, Canada in November 2012. I stepped down from serving on this committee after 3 years of service and chairing it last year.

And, in November, there will be another Nagiurney becoming a Fellow of one of his professional societies. My husband will be inducted in NYC  (I am very much looking forward to this event) as a Fellow of the Radio Club of America. He will receive his certificate at the Club's 103rd Annual Banquet at the New York Athletic Club. The Radio Club of America is the oldest association of professionals in the radio and wireless telecommunications industries. Founded in 1909, The Radio Club of America has counted among its Fellows the very best in the radio communications industry such as Edwin Armstrong, David Sarnoff, Louis Hazeltine, John V. L. Hogan, Paul Godley and Allen B. DuMont. 

So, this year we will be singing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" at multiple locations and toasting all the newly elected Fellows.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Supply Chain Network Theory and Operations Management

When I received an invitation to contribute to a PhD course being offered this term at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, I was intrigued.

The title of the course is: Theoretical Perspectives in Contemporary Business Administration Research.

Of course, I accepted, and look forward to being back soon as a Visiting Professor of Operations Management at the University of Gothenburg in the gorgeous city that has become my second home.

For the past three weeks or so, I have been reading a lot of material on theory in operations management and in supply chain management and selected the title: "Operations Management and Supply Chain Network Theory," for my contribution to the course.

I was also asked to prepare a reading list for the doctoral students, which I have done and which includes both a recent invited handbook chapter that I wrote on "Supply Chains and Transportation Networks" and a tutorial that I co-authored with Dr.  Qiang "Patrick" Qiang  that was published in the International Transactions in Operational Research, which has been been available for download for free.

In addition, in order to emphasize how the theory can be applied in practice, I will be using the article, A. Nagurney and M. Yu (2012),  ``Sustainable Fashion Supply Chain Management Under Oligopolistic Competition and Brand Differentiation," International Journal of Production Economics 135, Special Issue on  Green Manufacturing and Distribution in the Fashion and Apparel Industries, pp 532-540.

The syllabus for the course is now available.

What a wonderful way in which to begin my sabbatical -- by teaching on a topic that I care deeply about in a country that I love -- Sweden.

In my intensive lectures I will be giving the students an introduction to operations management, since they come with different backgrounds and represent different specialties.  I will overview networks of relevance to supply chains and will discuss supply chain network theory and applications, with our case study on sustainability and fashion, which is quite appropriate since I will be teaching in the land of H&M! I also plan on covering  other issues that have been explored using supply chain network theory from mergers and acquisitions to supply chain network performance and vulnerability analysis and even the role of supply chains in disaster relief.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Big Data and Statistical Consulting -- Looking Foward to PhD Alum's Presentation!

************ Updated information -- Dr. Khachatryan will be speaking on Friday, September 21, 2012, at 2PM at the Isenberg School of Management in Room 106. A reception will precede his talk,
beginning at 1:30PM. The poster below reflects this new information. ********************

This is the time of the year that we not only gear up for the new academic year but we also start to organize talks by outside speakers

Although I am on sabbatical this year (and was also on sabbatical the 2005-2006 year at Harvard), this does not stop me from helping the students in the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter to host speakers.

So, do mark your calendars!

On Friday, September 21, 2012, just a few days before I fly back to Sweden, we will be hosting one of our Isenberg School PhD alums who will be speaking on a very "hot" topic and will also be sharing his experiences in the consulting industry.

I am delighted that Dr. Davit Khachatryan of PriceWaterhouseCoopers will be our first speaker. Dr. Khachatryan received his PhD in 2010 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and his concentration was Management Science.

The students have prepared the poster above
Title of Presentation: Show Me the Data: My Experience as a Statistical Consultant 
Today data are collected in wide variety of shapes and forms, including image data from surveillance cameras, click-stream and sentiment data from social media websites, financial transaction data from ATMs, in addition to the traditional ‘designed’ data from sources such as surveys and censuses. In vast majority of cases data collection is round the clock and fully automated. In addition, the frequency of data collection can reach milliseconds and capacities of data warehouses are beginning to be measured in petabytes. The challenge emerging from the repository clouds calls for dexterity in extracting the most penetrating and pertinent information from this tsunami of data. In particular, business enterprises are in need of robust, reusable and fully automated analytic solutions able to efficiently sift through avalanche of data and produce answers that will leave their mark on the bottom line. In this talk I will present my experiences in statistical consulting arena, stressing on what I have witnessed and learned when practicing the profession during the last two years. In addition, I will discuss certain challenges and paradigm shifts that I envision to be facing statistical consultants in the future.

For those of you who would like to get more information on Tips on Organizing a Successful Speaker Series, you can read my post here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Science PhD is Not a Waste of Time -- A Doctorate Lasts a Lifetime

You may have seen some of the articles on recipients of science PhDs who may not be gainfully employed, which, may simply mean that they could not get a tenure-track job in academia.

You may even have read or heard that "Getting a PhD in science is a waste of time" because of the years involved in taking courses, doing the research, and writing and defending the dissertation, at a salary or stipend that does not compare to a well-paying job.

Reading such articles, including a recent one in The Washington Post, frankly, I felt as though there was some sort of anti-science conspiracy in the US, when, ironically, so many students from abroad are flocking to US institutions of higher education for degrees in science, engineering, and related professions.

At the same time, various scientific organizations, as well as companies, are arguing for enhanced education and more students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields,with a recent OpEd piece in The New York Times, by Thomas L. Friedman, "I Made the Robot Do it," discussing how a soon to be released programmable robot and associated technology may not only help to create good jobs but also eliminate bad ones.

Friedman begins his OpEd with an infamous quote by a congressman and member of the House Science Committee, which makes Friedman wonder some days how the US became thr richest, most powerful country, and, more important, how we are going to stay there.  He thanks God that there are still innovators and entrepreneurs who are not interested in politics but who go out and invent stuff and fix stuff and collaborate on stuff. Sounds to me exactly what a science PhD is about.

Friedman attended a design workshop at Rethink Robotics near Logan Airport in Boston and the company's founder, Richard Brooks, who has a PhD, is also behind the Roomba vacuum cleaner. A few days ago, while dropping off my daughter at college, I met one of the Board of Directors of this company, whose daughter is my daughter's dorm-mate, and I had one of the most intellectually stimulating conversations on technology, cloud computing, and ideas for the future with him.

Now, there is another voice of reason.

Daniel Lametti, an advanced  doctoral student, in an article in Slate,  "Is a Science Ph.D. a Waste of Tine?" writes that: focusing on the hypothetical financial loss ignores why many graduate students pursue a Ph.D. in the first place: intellectual curiosity. The biggest perk of graduate school in science is getting paid to learn. Many of the people I spoke to missed the intellectual and logistical freedom of graduate school--being able to set their own hours and pursue a wide range of academic activities. Nobody expressed regret about working towards a science Ph.D.; graduate school, most said, was a lot of fun. I'd have to agree.

In addition, Lametti notes that: the product of a doctoral education has been a dissertation--a body of research that, in a small way, moves a field forward. There's nothing wrong with contributing to science and then moving on. The work won't disappear. 

And my favorite line from Lametti: Dissertations are published and doctorates last a lifetime.

In the article, he also highlighted cases of how methodologies learned while a doctoral student, such as statistics and computer programming (although I hope that some of these tools would have been learned as an undergraduate student), can be applied in many different sectors. We all have friends who have left academia to go into the private sector, including Wall Street, precisely because of such marketable skills.

In such fields as operations research and management science, the latter is the track that my doctoral students concentrate in at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, there are numerous opportunities in academia and industry after getting the PhD and some even move between the two. Of course, statistics, computer programming, plus modeling and optimization and algorithms, are essential tools for scientific research in operations research / management science.

In honor of science, technology, invention, and getting a PhD, below I have posted a photo of my Roomba, which I had mentioned in an earlier post, was a present given to me by a doctoral student, whose dissertation I had chaired. He is now a professor educating others.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Glacial Potholes, the Bridge of Flowers, and Art -- the Beauty of Shelburne Falls

One reason that I kike living in western Massachusetts, in addition to the great colleges and universities in our area, not to mention the wonderful elementary and private as well as public high schools, is the beauty of the area.

Today, we took a lovely drive to Shelburne Falls where we saw not only glacial potholes, but also the Bridge of Flowers, and a lot of art, both indoors and out.

Other highlights included a ride on the over 100 year old trolley and a stop at a soda fountain that is still operating in an old fashioned pharmacy.

 No wonder that  this area inspires so many artists and writers, plus educators.