The 2022 INFORMS Annual Meeting: An OR Reunion that was OR (Outstanding & Remarkable)

It has been a month since the 2022 INFORMS Annual Meeting took place in Indianapolis, and yet our Chapter Officers are still reminiscing about it. For some of us, it was the first in-person conference experience that will not be forgotten. For others, it was a refreshing reunion after the conferences of the last couple of years that had to be held virtually. And for all of us, it was truly an extraordinary experience that will be cherished for a long time.

Our Officers realized (or remembered) that the impact of an INFORMS Annual Meeting can last very long, and maybe even a life time. Meeting with people who are passionate about the same issues that a researcher devotes their time and energy can lead to brand new ideas, papers and projects. A casual discussion about a problem during the 15-minute break between two sessions can open a door that a PhD student was trying to open for months. A new collaborator for the next exciting research project can be the person sitting next to you during a panel. This kind of an effect does not just fade away once the participants are back home, because that is the inevitable outcome: A conference that brings so many brilliant and passionate people from all over the country and the world is bound to change, motivate, and inspire those people.

One of the most anticipated events of the Annual Meeting was the INFORMS Student Awards Ceremony, where we received an award and had the chance to get a photo with Dr. Laura Albert, who will serve as the INFORMS president in 2023. Our Faculty Advisor Prof. Nagurney was present at the ceremony to support us and share this wonderful moment together. Anne Robinson, who is the Chief Strategy Officer at Kinaxis, delivered an amazing keynote speech at the ceremony, and reminded us all that despite what our imposter syndrome might tell us sometimes, everyone in the room at that evening very much deserved to be there, and their efforts were always acknowledged and appreciated by INFORMS. This speech was a beautiful summary of the Annual Meeting for us: We worked very hard to be there in Indianapolis, and our presence there was acknowledged and appreciated.

Our Officers receiving our award at the Student Awards Ceremony, with Dr. Laura Albert and our Faculty Advisor Prof. Anna Nagurney

Our Officers had an amazing time in Indy, as well as our Faculty Advisor. Professor Anna Nagurney had “numerous highlights” at the conference, as she describes on her blog post, including the awarding of the inaugural Stella Dafermos Mid-Career Award from the Transportation Science and Logistics (TSL) Society of INFORMS. The award is named after a brilliant researcher who was Professor Nagurney’s PhD dissertation advisor at Brown University, Stella Dafermos. It is worth noting that the award is named after a female researcher, which is unfortunately still not very common.¹ Prof. Nagurney served as the Award Selection Committee Chair, had the opportunity to recognize the legacy of her late advisor, and presented the award to Prof. N.A.H. (Niels) Agatz, who is a Professor of Last-mile Supply Chain Analytics at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.

Prof. Nagurney was also invited to speak at the Minority Issues Forum (MIF) Workshop for Undergraduate Underrepresented Minorities (URMs), and gave a 90 minute talk titled “Why Operations Research / Management Science is the BEST! – A Personal Journey and Your Career Path”.

Prof. Anna Nagurney with the recipient of the Stella Dafermos Mid-Career Award from the TSL Society of INFORMS, Prof. N.A.H. (Niels) Agatz.

Prof. Nagurney’s presentation at the MIF Workshop for Undergraduate Underrepresented Minorities (URMs).

Our President Paola Pimentel Furlanetto had a busy schedule at the Annual Meeting! She presented her work titled “Capturing Carbon But Not Its Co-Pollutants: Carbon Capture And The Challenges of Just Decarbonization” at the “Social Justice Integration into Decision Making” session. This work was also presented at the Minority Issues Forum (MIF) Poster Session. She was also selected for the Doctoral Student Colloquia – DSC. Between these achievements, she managed to attend Student Organizations Meeting Session/Prizes, as well as Energy, Natural Resources, and the Environment (ENRE) Business Meeting. Time management is one of many skills of our Officers as OR/MS researchers, which was very much needed during the packed schedule of the conference.

Our Chapter President Paola in front of her poster presented at the MIF Poster Session

Let’s hear from Paola in more detail about how her Annual Meeting experience went:

“INFORMS 2022 was a wonderful experience! This was the first “real conference” I have attended since COVID. By “real”, I mean fully in person and with substantial attendance, nationwide and from abroad. I started Saturday with a full day of doctoral student colloquia, it included a variety of topics from the job market, teaching, and equity & inclusion. I was able to discuss my research at two occasions: a poster session and a presentation. At both, I met new people and possible collaborators. I also got to meet Dr. Miguel Anjos whose book is core material for my PhD thesis. Dr. Anjops was kind enough to offer me almost one hour of his time, he listened to my research and gave me feedback that is helping me move forward with my thesis. I also met other young professors and scholars who are interested in equity and inclusion, and they also do research in the intersection of Engineering and Justice. We exchanged contact for future collaboration.”

“INFORMS 2022 was a wonderful experience! I met new people and possible collaborators, (…), and other young professors and scholars who are interested in equity and inclusion. We exchanged contact for future collaboration.”

-Paola Pimentel Furlanetto

Our Secretary Vivian Ogechi Nwadiaru was also present at the Annual Meeting! She participated in the Minority Issues Forum (MIF) poster session, and the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources (ENRE) flash talk session. The title of her presentation was “Optimizing Collaborative Energy Storage Systems and Equity Outcomes” for both sessions. Her testimonial which describes her interactions at the Annual Meeting in great detail is as follows:

“One highlight of the conference was attending the talks and meeting the authors of methods I apply in my research. Particularly, I enjoyed the talk delivered by Ralph Keeney on “Creating the Essential Front-End for a Quality Decision Analysis” and the plenary session delivered by Cynthia Rudin on making Machine Learning models simpler, where she emphasized the possibility of creating simple ML models that deliver competing degrees of accuracy as complex proprietary models. On a social note, as a student member of ENRE, it was great to participate in the business meeting and learn that INFORMS is thinking of new ways to advance DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), and adapt to our ever-changing world through amendments to its constitution. The breadth and depth of work at INFORMS is very astonishing and inspiring for a young researcher like myself.”

Vivian presenting her work at the ENRE Flash Talk Session

Our Social Media Coordinator, G. Busra Karkili also had the chance to join the officers at the Annual Meeting. She presented her work “Interactions Between Mission-Oriented State Agencies and Profit-Oriented Service Providers Under Demand Uncertainty” at the Public Sector Operations Research (PSOR) Flash Session. She also had the chance to meet with the OR/MS Tomorrow editorial team that she is volunteering for as a Social Media Coordinator. She was one of the OR/MS Tomorrow team members who also volunteered to report some of the keynotes for OR/MS Today Magazine and eNews Daily, thanks to the offer by Ashley Kilgore (Communications Manager of INFORMS) and Kara Tucker (Editor of OR/MS Today and Analytics). The keynote sessions that were covered by Busra were “The Era of Accelerated Discovery in Healthcare and Life Sciences” by Dr. Jane L. Snowdon, and the 2022 Daniel H. Wagner Prize Winner Reprise.

Busra presenting her work at the PSOR Flash Session.

Last but certainly not least, our treasurer Yiwen Wang presented her work titled “Characterizing Relatedness between Offshore and Onshore Wind Energy” at the “Emerging Energy Technologies” session. Yiwen was also a presenter at the poster competition on Monday Poster Session. We are also very proud to note that her work was the winner of the 2022 C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium Poster Competition as well.

Yiwen presenting her work at the “Emerging Energy Technologies” session.

Even though this blog post was long, it was certainly not enough to cover the entirety of our wonderful time in Indianapolis. Our Chapter is thankful for all the support and the appreciation, and we are more motivated than ever to work hard so that we can have more opportunities like the 2022 Annual Meeting where we get to meet with great people, listen to their great ideas, share ours, and be heard. We thank you for reading, and always supporting us throughout this amazing journey.

Until next time, Indianapolis!


[1] According to a 2022 study mentioned in Women In Academia (WIA) Report and in Nature, women are less likely to win academic awards that are named after men compared to other academic awards. Awards like the Stella Dafermos Mid-Career Award mentioned above play a crucial role in overcoming this gender bias and appreciating the efforts of the researchers regardless of their gender.