It has been three weeks since the 2023 INFORMS Annual Conference in which the UMass Amherst Student Chapter of INFORMS won the INFORMS Student Chapter Annual Award with the magna cum laude degree, and we briefly highlighted our photoshoot with the award plaque in a previous recap post of the conference. However, looking back at the photos, it would be a shame not to dedicate a separate post on our blog to some of the pictures we took that day. The photoshoot was held on Sunday, October 22, 2023, at the Business Innovation Hub at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. First and foremost, here is a close-up picture of the plaque:
Here are a couple of pictures of our former and current officers, Paola Furlanetto, Dana Hassani, Busra Karkili, Semih Boz, Vivian Nwadiaru, Yiwen Wang, Josh Gladstone, and Yukti Kathuria, who have all played an essential role in winning the award, along with our faculty advisor, Professor Anna Nagurney:
And what is a photoshoot with an award plaque if it is all serious and official! So here is a picture highlighting the joy that our officers and members felt by bringing the award back home to Amherst:
Finally, as always, we encourage you to keep updated on our blog posts for more coverage as we continue to showcase all our exciting activities and events.
On November 2, 2023, the UMass INFORMS Student Chapter hosted 4 exchange students from the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) on a panel about their experiences in UMass Amherst and their perspectives on higher education in the US and Ukraine.
This exchange was facilitated by the memorandum of agreement that Isenberg School of Management and KSE signed in March 2022 to assist students and schools impacted by the ongoing war in Ukraine. 15 virtual scholars were also included as a part of this agreement. The exchange student panelists were Asta Motrenko, Iryna Horoberts, Khrystyna Burhina, and Marharyta Nechytailo, and they all major in economics and are taking various courses in mathematics, economics, etc., at UMass Amherst.
The students were surprised by a video message from KSE Rector Tymofii Brik, who congratulated them on their achievement and mentioned that they were missed back in Ukraine.
The panel was moderated by Professor Anna Nagurney as well as Professor Bogdan Prokopovych from the Management Department of Isenberg School of Management, and the students were asked a variety of questions about the differences in higher education between Ukraine and the US, their favorite memories in Amherst, and the cultural differences between their life in Kyiv and Amherst. The students appreciated the diversity of foods in the UMass dining halls but mentioned that they missed Ukrainian food.
Kalpen Trivedi, the Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Director of the International Programs Office (IPO), also joined the event. He emphasized that the partnership between the Isenberg School of Management and the Kyiv School of Economics, led by Professor Anna Nagurney, has been one of the most productive partnerships ever established by IPO.
The audience also got to engage with our panelists in a Q&A. Professor Marta Calás from the Management Department applauded the students on their dedication to Ukraine and offered to host them in her class as guests. There were also several questions about the resources UMass Amherst provided for the exchange students. The students mentioned that they had an easy transition to the US as they were picked up at the airport and provided transportation to Amherst, bedding, and other accommodations. They also touched upon the extracurricular activities they have been engaging in while at UMass.
Finally, the students expressed a desire to return to Ukraine to eventually work on the recovery and reconstruction of their country; a critical part of the partnership between KSE and UMass Amherst has been avoiding Ukraine’s brain drain from the get-go.
We would like to thank the exchange students for agreeing to participate on the panel and all the students, faculty, and staff present at the event who moderated, asked questions, participated in meaningful discussion, and made the students feel welcome and valued at UMass Amherst.
For news coverage of the event please have a look at the following links:
If you missed Professor Hari Balasubramanian’s brilliant talk on care interventions for patients with medical and social complexities, you can now watch our interview with him on our YouTube channel. Professor Balasubramanian kindly accepted our invitation and shared valuable details about his research and the “healthcare hot-spotting” program created by the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.
Some related references and more details on the subject can be found in the papers in the below links:
A week has passed since the 2023 INFORMS Annual Meeting resolved in the warmth of Phoenix, Arizona, and we, the conferees at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, have already started reminiscing about our days at the Phoenix Convention Center where the conference was hosted. Coming back to cold Massachusetts, we were inevitably wondering whether it was the excitement of all the scholars and practitioners at the meeting that resulted in those above-100-degree hot spell days in Phoenix, especially of those who were experiencing the annual meeting for the first time, like some of our officers.
The days were long but needed to be longer for all the sessions, panels, and talks that our Advisor, Professor Anna Nagurney, our current and former officers, and our members had in their plans. On top of presenting on “Defense Critical Supply Chain Networks and Risk Management with the Inclusion of Labor” in a community committee choice session titled “Disaster Management: Networks and Grids,” Professor Nagurney participated in multiple panels and meetings, such as: “The Role of Operations Research in Disaster Risk Reduction, Building Disaster Resilience and Effective Crisis Response”; “Optimization and Resilience: Enhancing Community Resilience Against Natural Hazards”; “Meet the Editors of International Transactions in Operational Research (ITOR).”
Our current Vice-President, Sindhoora Prakash, started the conference very early on Sunday morning, presenting in the session on “OR Models in Healthcare Systems.”
Then, before our current President, Dana Hassani, presents his first published paper in the “Global Supply Chains” session on Monday afternoon, our previous President, Paola Furlanetto, presented her research in the early morning hours in the session titled “Modeling for Equity and Sustainability.”
Then came the turn for our Treasurer, Josh Gladstone, and our YouTube officer, Semih Boz, to present on Tuesday afternoon at different sessions on “Assortment Planning” and “Drone Delivery Systems.”
Our former Secretary, Vivian Nwadiaru, who was also among the recipients of the 2023 SCOT INFORMS scholarship, presented on Tuesday at the session on the “DEI Ambassador Program,” while our former Treasurer, Yiwen Wang, and our Social Media Officer, Busra Karkili, presented on the last day of the conference, i.e., Wednesday morning, on sessions titled “Planning and Operating Hydropower” and “Innovations in Public Sector Operations.” Busra was also a proud panelist at “MIF Life as a Ph.D. Student Panel.”
And what better way to wrap up a conference than receiving the 2023 INFORMS Student Chapter Annual Award with the Magna Cum Laude degree for the UMass Amherst Student Chapter of INFORMS.
We came back to Amherst, and the first thing we did as a Chapter was to set a time for a proud photoshoot with our deserved award. It was a Sunday morning, but some donuts and a lot of joy from bringing the award plaque to Amherst gathered us at the Business Innovation Hub building at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
And last but not least, we must mention all the new connections we made thanks to the Annual Meeting and the opportunity to meet and greet all the old friends, former officers, colleagues, classmates, etc.
We already miss our time at the conference and downtown Phoenix. All we can do is wait for the 2024 INFORMS Annual Conference. However, in the meantime, our officers and members will engage in impactful research and professional service, and we will hold many, many exciting events through our INFORMS Student Chapter to obtain yet another INFORMS Student Chapter Annual Award, this time at Seattle, Washington.
On October 6, 2023, with the INFORMS Annual Meeting just around the corner, we had a Tune-Up session where four of our student members had the opportunity to present their research and gain valuable feedback from their peers and faculty. Interestingly, this year’s INFORMS Annual Meeting will be the first for all the students who presented at our Tune-Up session this year.
The talks were quite varied, which made the session even more enjoyable. Semih focused on transportation and last-mile delivery, while Josh talked more about retailing; Sindhoora informed us of her impactful research on healthcare, and Dana talked of international trade.
After the session, we posed for a picture with everyone present. Students were incredibly thankful to the faculty members who dedicated the time to attend the event and provided them with valuable feedback.
Afterward, we ended our session by interacting with the attendees over some delicious yet healthy refreshments.
Again, we are very thankful to all the students who volunteered to present at this Tune-Up event and to all students and, especially, faculty who attended the session and gave the presenters insightful tips on their presentations. Students will be presenting the same research topics, although, hopefully, much improved with the use of feedback they received at the Tune-Up Session, in this years INFORMS Annual Meeting.
Please routinely check our blog and other social media outlets as we continue covering our forthcoming exciting events.
With the beginning of the new academic year and students coming back to campus, UMass INFORMS is also back to coordinating many exciting events. On September 22, we hosted Dr. Hari Balasubramanian, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as our first guest speaker this academic year.
Professor Balasubramanian gave an insightful talk on the care interventions for patients with complexities in their medical condition and their social background, and the presentation was very impactful in terms of its relevance to the problem of availability and affordability of medical care for all. According to Dr. Balasubramanian, this research has directly resulted from the time he has spent collaborating with New Jersey’s Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.
The attendance for Dr. Balasubramanian’s talk was quite significant, and even a student reporter from one of the local newspapers attended the event, with follow-up questions from Dr. Balasubramanian, Professor Nagurney, and the officers after the session to write a full coverage.
After the session, along with Dr. Balasubramanian and our advisor, Professor Anna Nagurney, we headed to the Commonwealth Restaurant at UMass Amherst for a delicious lunch with many exciting desserts.
Again, we are very thankful to Dr. Balasubramanian for accepting our invitation and for their insightful seminar. We would also like to thank all those who joined us for this seminar and those who supported us in organizing it.
UMass INFORMS will continue organizing many more exciting events this academic year, and we will continue covering all our activities in our blog.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
 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 inovercoming this gender bias and appreciating the efforts of the researchers regardless of their gender.
It has been a quiet semester for our blog. So, one may wonder: what is the UMass Student Chapter of INFORMS up to in Fall 2022?
Yes, dear friends, we might be quiet but that is because we are doing tons of background work! We have been working since the Summer term on management and planning meetings while, of course, doing lots of great research. We also presented our work at theINFORMS 2022 Annual Conference. In our Chapter meetings, we are doing groundwork, defining officers’ tasks and expectations in an effort to boost engagement and take our Chapter to pre-pandemic levels.
We are lucky that our President, PhD candidate Paola Furlanetto, joined the Chapter right before the pandemic. Therefore, she has contacts of previous officers as well as “historical insight” on how the Chapter used to operate. Our President made time to meet individually with our Social Media, Treasure and Management teams in order to set area specific goals. Once the valuable support of our Faculty Advisor Dr. Anna Nagurney is also added to these efforts, we are set for success!
Stay tuned for our upcoming events, they include outreach activities, seminars, coffee hours, game nights, and End of Semester Networking Party. The events will be advertised on our social media platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) as well as on this blog. You are also welcomed to join our mailing list, just send us an email!
Keep in mind you can join UMass INFORMS anytime throughout the academic year. We welcome undergraduate and graduate students working or with an interest in fields such as Operations Research (OR), Management Sciences (MS), and Analytics. To make it plain: from Isenberg School of Management, College of Information & Computer Sciences, College of Engineering, Applied Sciences, Mathematics and more, WE WANT YOU!
Not sure what OR/MS is? Not sure if INFORMS is for you? Reach out to our Chapter and one of our officers will be happy to give you more information. All our work is based on volunteering, and we always define the expectations and requirements of each position very clearly beforehand.
Have a wonderful Fall, and come be revolutionary with us!