UMass INFORMS Speaker Series: Dr. Laura Albert

As the UMass INFORMS Student Chapter, we have been always proud of the Speaker Series events we have organized. With the support of INFORMS, our departments at UMass Amherst, and our Faculty Advisor’s efforts, we managed to welcome brilliant guests and hear more about their research and experiences. Spring 2023 was no exception in terms of the level of inspiration and excitement, and we would like to take this opportunity to provide our readers with more details about these events from this past semester.

“On Designing and Operating Resilient Voting Systems” by Dr. Laura Albert

Our second guest for the Spring 2023 Speaker Series was no other than the 2023 INFORMS President, Dr. Laura Albert! Dr. Albert is the David H. Gustafson Chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the author of the famous OR blog, Punk Rock Operations Research. It was an honor to welcome Dr. Albert for a Zoom talk on the design and operation of resilient voting systems.

Dr. Laura Albert’s presentation titled “On Designing and Operating Resilient Voting Systems”.

Before starting to describe her work, Dr. Albert shared the details of her experience at INFORMS, and asked the audience to share why they enjoyed being an INFORMS member. Thanks to this pleasant mini discussion, we were all reminded that there was something for every OR/MS fan at the INFORMS community, whether they were a graduate student, a faculty member or a researcher.

Dr. Albert’s list of “favorite things about INFORMS“.

Thanks to Dr. Laura Albert’s fantastic talk, we were once again reminded that there were so many systems around us, such as the voting system, that can benefit from OR/MS tools being used creatively and effectively. Dr. Albert was very kind to reserve extra time before the talk to answer our questions and give valuable advice. Our Student Chapter was so happy to be reunited with Dr. Albert, whom we last saw during the 2022 INFORMS Annual Meeting when she presented us with our Student Chapter Award.

Dr. Albert and our audience for a virtual group photo.

We would like to thank Dr. Albert once again for joining us for our Speaker Series, sharing her research and spending additional time with our faculty members and graduate students to answer questions and provide valuable insights on our research, career goals and being an INFORMS member.

Our blog posts will continue with highlights from this past academic year. Many thanks to everyone who joined our Speaker Series events and supported our Student Chapter.


UMass INFORMS Speaker Series: Dr. Arzum Akkas

The Spring semester has come to an end, which means it is a great time for our Chapter members to reflect on this semester’s memories and share with our readers the details of the amazing events we organized together. We would like to take this opportunity to take our readers down memory lane, and remember the wonderful talks we had in Spring 2023 for our Speaker Series.

“Inventory Issuing Rules and Food Waste Management” by Dr. Arzum Akkas

Our first guest this Spring was Dr. Arzum Akkas, who gave a highly informative talk on March 31 about food waste management and inventory issuing rules. Dr. Akkas is an Assistant Professor at the Questrom School of Business, Boston University, and a faculty affiliate of the Boston University Institute for Global Sustainability. Dr. Akkas also visited our campus to give her presentation, which made her the first Speaker Series guest that we had the honor to welcome in-person since the COVID pandemic has started, and made this experience even more special. In her presentation, Dr. Akkas discussed the management of perishable inventory at distribution centers, and presented two papers with intriguing results.

Dr. Arzum Akkas giving her presentation on food waste management.

After this inspiring talk, Dr. Akkas was joined by our Faculty Advisor Dr. Anna Nagurney and our Chapter members Paola, Vivian, Busra, Dana and Josh for a nice lunch at The Commonwealth Restaurant. It was very pleasant to see the immediate impact of Dr. Akkas’ research presentation: Desserts were shared to prevent food waste, and the remains from the generous portions of delicious turkey sandwiches and burgers were taken in to-go boxes to be enjoyed later.

Once the desserts were finished and we were all recharged with coffee and tea, we went back to the Supernetworks Lab at the Isenberg building to record an interview with Dr. Akkas. In this interview, Dr. Akkas talked more about her research, shared her professional experiences, and gave valuable insights about choosing a career in academia vs. industry. We are so happy to present our readers with the recorded interview below.

Once again, we would like to thank our brilliant guest Dr. Arzum Akkas for informing us more about such an important issue in today’s world, and visiting our beloved campus.

Our blog posts will continue with highlights from this past academic year. Many thanks to everyone who joined our Speaker Series events and supported our Student Chapter.