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UMass INFORMS Speaker Series: Dr. Robin Lougee

Our Student Chapter’s Speaker Series keeps bringing us together with excellent researchers, and our last event on November 19th was no exception. We were honored to have Dr. Robin Lougee, a member of the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, for this semester’s first Speaker Series event. Dr. Lougee was the former Global Research Industry Lead for Consumer at IBM Research, and she is the newly elected Vice President of Practice of INFORMS.

Dr. Robin Lougee with our Chapter Officers, our Faculty Advisor, and audience members.

For this talk, Dr. Lougee introduced us to the fascinating world of AI systems used in product development. Thanks to her, we were informed about how great levels of efficiency can be achieved in product design when the developers are assisted by novel AI systems. The talk was based on a multi-year research collaboration between McCormick & Company and IBM Research. Hence, specific cases of AI-aided product design with a focus on flavor innovation were brought up during the presentation. One would initially think that “taste” is such a nuanced concept that could not be captured by inanimate subjects, and yet Dr. Lougee showed us that not only AI systems can explore the flavor space very effectively, but they can also add various constraints of the product developer to the picture while doing so, such as cost or healthiness of the final product.

Dr. Lougee’s presentation about using AI systems in product development.

This highly intriguing research showed all those in the audience that when creativity meets technology and information, results that were previously unexpected can be unveiled and move us towards a greater future. Our Student Chapter was truly motivated by the excellence of this talk, and would like to thank Dr. Robin Lougee once again. We would also like to thank our Faculty Advisor Prof. Anna Nagurney, and everyone in the audience for joining and supporting us for our Speaker Series event. We cannot wait to see what is the next ORMS subject that we will explore thanks to the Speaker Series!

Dr. Lougee as she takes questions from the audience.