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.

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

Inventory Issuing Rules and Food Waste Management, Dr. Akkas

Dear UMass INFORMS community,

We are thrilled to announce the first talk of our Spring 2023 Speaker Series titled “Inventory Issuing Rules and Food Waste Management,” organized by the UMass Amherst Student Chapter of INFORMS and its Faculty Advisor, Professor Anna Nagurney.

Dr. Arzum Akkas, assistant professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, will give the talk. Dr. Akkas will present findings from two research papers on managing perishable inventory at distribution centers. Her research provides guidance for managers to make inventory issuing decisions that consider the downstream supply chain’s food waste impact.

The event will be held on Friday, March 31, from 11 am to 12:15 pm at Isenberg School Of Management N145. We welcome you to attend this in-person event!

Thank you, and we hope to see you there!


UMass Amherst Student Chapter of INFORMS


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.


Happy Fall Y’all!

A lovely Fall scene from our campus, in front of the Isenberg building

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 the INFORMS 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!



Our beautiful Campus Pond in Fall


UMass INFORMS Speaker Series: Mr. Jack Levis

This semester’s last Speaker Series event was a very informative and interesting presentation by Mr. Jack Levis, who is an INFORMS fellow, an independent advisor, and Retired Senior Director of Engineering at UPS. Mr. Levis talked about the importance of understanding the limitations of analytics, investing in data alongside the product, and embracing change management.

In his presentation, Mr. Levis also mentioned the value of building a strong network, which was a remarkable reminder for our audience consisting of students and researchers at different stages in their careers.

Many thanks to our brilliant guest Mr. Levis, and everyone who joined us for this amazing talk. If you missed it, you can follow the link to our YouTube channel, and watch the recording of this brilliant session!


UMass INFORMS Speaker Series: Dr. Tinglong Dai

On April 8, we welcomed our brilliant guest Dr. Tinglong Dai, Professor of Operations Management and Business Analytics at The Johns Hopkins University, for the third event of our Chapter’s Speaker Series this semester. Dr Dai gave an incredible presentation about the impact of introducing new airline routes in the U.S. on broader organ (especially, kidney) transplantation.

Considering the time-sensitive nature of organ transplantation process, it was very intriguing for our audience to hear how a more efficient airline transportation (ideally with direct flights) could make a difference for the patients involved in this process.

Thanks to his insightful work and our attentive audience members from various research backgrounds, we were also able to have a very inspiring discussion session which allowed us to see this important issue from different angles. Thank you so much Dr. Dai for sharing this amazing work with us!

Making an Impact: It’s Math and Psychology

Speaker: Mr. Jack Levis, INFORMS Fellow, Independent Advisor, and Retired Senior Director of Engineering at UPS
Location: Virtual Meeting  RSVP

Does Transportation Mean Transplantation? Impact of New Airline Routes on Sharing of Cadaveric Kidneys

Speaker: Dr. Tinglong Dai, Professor of Operations Management and Business Analytics at Johns Hopkins University
Location: Virtual Meeting RSVP