Monday, August 22, 2016

Exciting Times at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst

Today was a picture perfect day - sunny but with a nice breeze and, after working on a supply chain paper with collaborators and finishing up some lectures for my Logistics & Transportation class that I will be teaching this Fall at the Isenberg School of Management, I decided to walk to UMass Amherst. It is about a 2 mile walk via the route that I took which is through the woods and fields and through campus. I needed to submit some class materials for copying and, although classes don't begin until September 6, I like to be prepared (way) ahead of time. This goes with my background in operations research and efficiency and also in emergency preparedness and supply chain disruption management!

The Isenberg School of Management is in the midst of a major new construction project - the addition of a $66 million Business Innovation Hub. We have even received a nice invitation for the groundbreaking celebration, which will take place on September 16, 2016 and will be officiated by our UMass Amherst Chancellor, Dr. Kumble Subbaswamy, and the Isenberg Dean. Dr. Mark A. Fuller.

The construction project has actually already begun and it will be an interesting year since all of my courses are in classrooms alongside of the area where the construction crew has set up equipment and a staging area. Fences blocking the area are put up from the Isenberg School to the Fine Arts Center which is resulting in new pathways and journeys for students, faculty, staff, and visitors and guests to navigate.

But these are exciting times and the project will take 3 years and will add much needed space for our activities. The Boston Globe already had coverage of the project.

And, that is not all that is going on in terms of construction. Today I had the pleasure of checking out our Operations and Information Management Analytics Lab which is on the ground level of the Isenberg School and should be ready for the first day of classes - September 6. Susan Boyer gave me a nice tour and the construction crew was busy with the wiring today.
There will also be a specially made podium in the room and two big screens.  The chairs are nice and light and easy to clean. The analytics lab was made possible by many generous donors, including alums, parents, and faculty.

Then it was time to check out my office which physical plant this summer replaced the flooring of, had my windows cleaned, and cleaned my Oriental rug, so it is sparkling for the students' arrival.

This year there are many events to look forward to, including the publication of my 14th book, Dynamics of Disasters: Key Concepts, Models, Algorithms, and Findings, which I co-edited with Professors Ilias S. Kotsireas and Panos M. Pardalos.
Wishing everyone a GREAT start to the new academic year!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Supernetworks Lab at the Isenberg School of Management

It is hard to believe that 15 years ago I founded the Virtual Center for Supernetworks at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and have served as its Director ever since.  My co-author and former doctoral student, Dr. June Dong, and I had written the Supernetworks book, grants were coming in from the National Science Foundation and the AT&T Foundation, and there was and continues to be great interest surrounding networks to this day.

A big component of the Supernetwork Center is the Supernetworks Laboratory for Computation and Visualization, or the Supernetworks Lab, for short.
I am excited to report that we now have a new home at the Isenberg School for the lab. It is now housed in Room G11 and was formerly in G28. The lab has workspace for students as well as guests and visitors, a conference table for meetings and discussions, storage areas, shelves for books and boards for posting as well as a blackboard for discussions. We also have teleconferencing capabilities which is critical with our National Science Foundation grants, which tend to be multi-university ones.

When I look at the dissertations that have come out of the lab, as well as the publications, and the books, since its inception, it is clear that a community of support, excitement, and collaboration on both research and teaching leads to discoveries plus to great enjoyment. Also, the Center has Center Associates from academia and industry, and students, both graduate and undergraduate ones, creating great synergies. I have supported several undergraduates under NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates grants. Two former Undergraduate Center Associates went on to receive the Leaders for the 21st Century Awards from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, upon their graduation, a select honor only given to about a dozen students a year. Doctoral Student Center Associated have been recipients of the Isenberg School Outstanding Doctoral Student Researcher Award and the Outstanding Doctoral Student Teaching Award as well as INFORMS Judith B. Liebman Awards.  Two Doctoral Student Center Associates have been awarded national dissertation awards and one received two Isenberg Scholar Awards!

The lab and its Associates have been involved in numerous activities, from organizing conferences and workshops, to editing journal volumes, and serving as Associate Editors, to being frequently invited speakers at many prestigious forums in both academia and industry. The Supernetworks Lab page on the Virtual Center for Supernetworks contains more information.

Also, since Doctoral Student Center Associates are always very active in the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter and frequently serve as officers, speakers can come to the Lab for meetings and discussions. We also have awards received by the Student Chapter from its parent society INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences)  (other awards of the chapter grace our beautiful Isenberg School atrium) and a big poster designed by the students.

What I am especially proud of is the great Supernetwork Team, whose members continue to work and collaborate together, building a resilient network across the miles. We are always stronger together!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Celebrating My 19th PhD Student's Successful Defense at the Isenberg School of Management

It is always a very special day when a doctoral student successfully defends her dissertation.  It s extra special when it is your doctoral student and you chaired her dissertation committee.

Today is a very steamy day in Massachusetts with temperatures in the mid 90s but we celebrated, nonetheless, and for good reasons. Sara Saberi, my 19th PhD student, successfully defended her dissertation at the Isenberg School of Management this morning. Her concentration was Management Science. And, this is not Sara's first PhD, but her second. Her first is in Industrial Engineering from a university in Malaysia!

Sara's defense was at 8:30AM and she surprised us with some treats.
Sara's dissertation is entitled:  Network Game Theory Models of Services and Quality Competition with Application to Future Internet Architectures and Supply Chains. Her presentation can be downloaded here.

Her research was funded, in part, by  a three-year, $909,794, National Science Foundation grant to address some of the difficulties with new protocols and services on the Internet. The project, "Network Innovation through Choice," was part of a $2.7 million collaborative project. The project also included the University of Kentucky, North Carolina State University, and the Renaissance Computing Institute of Asheville, North Carolina. Professor Tilman Wolf, Associate Dean in the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst, who is also a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was the PI on the grant and I was a Co-PI.  Professor Wolf was also on Sara's doctoral dissertation committee. We received a one year extension on this grant and, together with Professor Wolf, I now have an NSF EAGER grant.

Sara also received not one, but two, Isenberg Scholar Awards from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, each for $10,000.

Sara's dissertation committee consisted, of Professor Adams Steven of my department at the Isenberg School of Management, and Professors Tilman Wolf and Michael Zink of the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst.

Sara did a great job presenting today.
After the successful defense, we went out to lunch at Judie's restaurant in downtown Amherst.

Sara, I am very pleased to say, begins a tenure track Assistant Professorship at the Foisie School of Business at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) this month! It will be very nice to have her in Massachusetts and only about an hour away. WPI is a research university and with the great colleagues and students there, Sara should thrive.

Several of Sara's research publications can be found below.

Supply Chain Network Competition in Price and Quality with Multiple Manufacturers and Freight Service Providers, Anna Nagurney, Sara Saberi, Shivani Shukla, and Jonas Floden, Transportation Research E 77: (2015) pp 248-267.

A Game Theory Model for a Differentiated Service-Oriented Internet with Duration-Based Contracts, Anna Nagurney, Sara Saberi, Tilman Wolf, and Ladimer S. Nagurney, Proceedings of ICS 2015: Operations Research and Computing: Algorithms and Software for Analytics, Brian Borchers, J. Paul Brooks, and Laura McLay, Editors , INFORMS (2015) pp 15-29.

A Network Economic Game Theory Model of a Service-Oriented Internet with Price and Quality Competition in Both Content and Network Provision, Sara Saberi, Anna Nagurney, and Tilman Wolf, Service Science 6(4): December (2014) pp 229-250.

A Dynamic Network Economic Model of a Service-Oriented Internet with Price and Quality Competition, Anna Nagurney, Dong Li, Sara Saberi, and Tilman Wolf, in Network Models in Economics and Finance, V.A. Kalyagin, P.M. Pardalos, and T. M. Rassias, Editors, Springer International Publishing Switzerland (2014) pp 239-264.

A Network Economic Game Theory Model of a Service-Oriented Internet with Choices and Quality Competition, Anna Nagurney, Dong Li, Tilman Wolf, and Sara Saberi, Netnomics 14(1-2): (2013) pp 1-25. (This article was recognized by ACM Computing Reviews as a Notable Article in Computing in 2013.)

A full list of my PhD students, up to Sara,  can be found on the academic genealogy website:
  Great to see the academic family tree growing.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Our OpEd on Why We Are Stronger Togather - Brexit and the Upcoming US Presidential Election

I have been back from beautiful Oxford, England for exactly one month. The memories of the Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College at Oxford University will always be with me from the cameraderie of the Fellows, the wonderful staff and delicious meals, the gardens, my office, and historic Oxford (plus I got a lot of research on supply chains completed).

While in Oxford, we engaged in numerous discussions over meals and afternoon tea and being there during the Trinity term was truly a historic time. The referendum take place on June 23, 2016 and we awoke to the shocking news that Great Britain had voted to exit the European Union (known as Brexit), although Oxford overwhelmingly voted to Remain. Also, we were all anticipating the nominations of the US Presidential candidates. Indeed, many of the conversation would include US politics and Hillary Clinton  or the latest on Trump.

As a researcher and educator but also a blogger I believe that it is very important to share information, commentary,  and opinions with the public.

While still in Oxford and reeling from the vote and the impact that it would have on the British economy and even research funding (plus one of my former doctoral students from UMass Amherst and co-author is a financier in London so we had some great insights as to the possible ramifications of Brexit),  my husband and I sat down that weekend and we wrote the OpEd: Why We Are Stronger Together. We submitted it exclusively to the Daily Hampshire Gazette (DHG) and we received the response quickly on a Sunday with the Editor telling us that it would be published the very next day since he liked it so much.

The  page on which our OpEd appears can be viewed here.

The direct link to the article is here.

One can also read it here.

Our OpEd ends with the following: We are  all stronger together with the free flow of people, ideas, services, and goods.  This enhances the education of our students and the resilience of our communities.

My other commentaries, OpEds, and Letters to the Editors can be viewed on the following page on the Virtual Center for Supernetworks website at the Isenberg School of Management.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Milestones Towards Your PhD

Congratulations! You have received admission into a doctoral program and will be supported by a fellowship or perhaps you will be working as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or a Research Assistant (RA). For the latter you might be supported by a professor's research grant.

Many graduate students are now starting to move to their new homes which will be the universities at which they will be pursuing their PhDs. Some travel hundreds of miles and some cross oceans and continents in pursuit of their dreams.

Graduate school is quite different from being an undergraduate and now you are officially an adult. You have identified a subject which is your passion and that you want to do research in. This, in itself is an achievement.

You will soon be registering for courses, undergoing orientation, and maybe even meeting your advisor for the very first time in person. Some universities bring prospective doctoral students to campus for interviews, but not all do.

The first year of graduate school is always exciting, since, unless you stay on at your undergraduate alma mater (as I did and amassed 4 degrees from Brown University), everything will be quite new to you.  There will be a new campus to explore, new friends to make, and new exciting courses to take, with a greater focus than in your undergraduate studies.

Following your first year of graduate study there will, most likely, be Milestone 1 and that is the Core Exam. Today, for example, one of my doctoral students had the oral component of her core exam, which was based on a paper that she had written over the summer, which she defended in front of her committee. Some programs and schools have one or two day written exams only and in our Management Science doctoral program at the Isenberg School we used to have such a core exam.  A few years ago we changed the model and now a student writes a paper on a theme that is agreed upon by the committee chair and her committee and it should be on research that he/she was involved in already, which really helps since the sooner you get into research and have the momentum the better for you and your graduation. It also helps a lot on the job market to have some good papers already placed, if not published.

Below is a photo of my happy doctoral student with her committee members after a successful core exam today.
In the second year of your doctoral studies you will be taking more courses and this is, typically, the case even if you matriculated with a Master's. For example, in our program, the doctoral students very often come with a Master's in Industrial Engineering or several of my students have matriculated with Master's degrees in Civil Engineering with a focus on Transportation or Mathematics or even Statistics.

After the second year there is another Milestone to hurdle over - that of the Comprehensive Exam.  In some schools the comprehensive exam may be more of a dissertation proposal but in our program now this exam, as the name implies, should demonstrate breadth and depth of knowledge of a student based on coursework over two years. Again, a committee is formed, with a chair, and the committee prepares the exam, which the student works on over several weeks. After submission of the completed written part to the committee, an oral exam is held (not to be confused with going to the dentist).

When I was a doctoral student at Brown University I only had one exam and it was a long oral one.

Ideally, in the third year (usually at the end of the third year) a student should form a dissertation committee.  Some programs at UMass only require three members, including the chair. Ours requires four members and one member should be an external member.  The student prepares the dissertation proposal, which is written,  shares it with the committee, and, once a defense date is scheduled, then defends it orally with a presentation and is subject to questions. This is Milestone 3.

After the research for the dissertation is completed and the doctoral student's advisor is happy with the result a defense date for the dissertation is scheduled. This should be a pleasant and happy time (although I have been to defenses in which the student did not pass but this I believe is as much the fault of the advisor as of the student). The dissertation defense is Milestone 4 and, once the students passes this huge step, and the grad school and other paperwork is finalized and processed, the happy student can take part in gradation ceremonies to receive the PhD! Now you can be addressed as "Doctor!"

Next Friday, my 19th PhD student, Sara Saberi, will be defending her PhD. It is actually her second PhD. Some like to go through the above process more than once although it is certainly not common.

This will be an exciting occasion for both Sara and for her advisor as well as for the committee members. Sara will be an Assistant Professor at the Foisie School of Business at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts, which is  research university and an ideal place for her. She begins he new position later this month. I supported Sara for two years on a National Science Foundation (NSF) Future Internet Architecture (FIA) grant. Also, in our program doctoral students are required to teach and this helps them on the academic job market so, typically, a doctoral student would teach in their 4th year of our program.

Best of luck to all PhD students on their journeys!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Physical Proof of the Occurrence of the Braess Paradox in Electrical Circuits

This morning we heard the good news - our paper, "Physical Proof of the Occurrence of the Braess Paradox in Electrical Circuits," had been accepted for publication in the journal Europhysics Letters (EPL). 

This paper we had worked on for over a year and had submitted it to the journal shortly before I left for England to begin my Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College at Oxford University at the end of April.

When we received the 2 reviews on this paper in July with one reviewer saying that the paper should be published in its present form and that the results were important, my co-author, who is also my husband, Professor Ladimer S. Nagurney, and I were quite pleased and felt very positive. We revised the paper to satisfy the other reviewer, which was a minor revision.

The paper we believe is very cool since, for the first time, it has been shown the electrons behave in a user-optimized manner, as has been postulated for drivers in a congested urban transportation network. Moreover, the addition of a new link can make the voltage, which is like the user path cost, or travel time in a transportation network,  increase. These findings were not only dome mathematically but actually using built circuits. This allows for experiments to be conducted in a laboratory setting and is yet another application in which the Braess paradox occurs, which, in its original form, demonstrated that the addition of a new link, which results in a new path for travellers, can actually make everyone worse off in the transportation network in terms of travel time. Hence, it can take you longer to get to work (or back home) if there are more routes than fewer ones even of the demand does not increase.

I have researched the Braess paradox since my PhD at Brown University and have also blogged about it.

There is a page on the paradox on the Supernetwork Center site:, where you can also find the translation of the original Braess (1968) article from German to English that I did with Professor Braess and my former doctoral student at the Isenberg School, Tina Wakolbinger, who is now a Professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria.

Also, this paper we presented at the recent EURO conference in Poznan, Poland, which was a fantastic conference. Our presentation can be downloaded and viewed here. 

Almost 50 years since the publication of the Braess paradox paper, this phenomenon continues to fascinate and now we have additional physical evidence.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The STEM Gems Book - Inspiring Female Role Models in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

This has been a terrific summer. Not only did I have the extraordinary experience of being a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University, which I blogged a lot about, but also two books were published this June: my Competing on Supply Chain Quality book, which I wrote with Dong "Michelle" Li, and  STEM Gems: How 44 Women Shine in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and How You Can Too!

In my most recent blogpost, I blogged about why we wrote the Competing on Supply Chain Quality book.

This blogpost is about STEM Gems, which was authored by Stephanie Espy, who has degrees from MIT and UC Berkeley in chemical engineering and also an MBA from Emory University and is the founder of MathSP. 
I was delighted that when I returned from Oxford the book had arrived in Amherst and my daughter had already dived into it. I have now had a chance to read it and could not put it down. The book, which Espy dedicated to her daughter, Zoe, is aimed at middle school and high school girls but, frankly, I enjoyed it tremendously. Espy wishes that she had had such a book when she was growing up and I am sure that it will be a "go to" book for many educators, parents, relatives, and friends to share with girls and young women.

I was honored to be one of the 12 females in Mathematics featured in the book, and enjoyed very much the interview process and even the photoshoot at the Isenberg School of Management 2 years ago.  My area of expertise and passion is networks and operations research.
The book is very elegant and beautifully written and edited. It was great to see several females that I have corresponded with and even heard speak at different conferences! There are females in industry, government, and academia featured, and also in the health sciences. The entrepreneurial spirit shines through!

I always find it fascinating to hear stories from successful women as to why they chose a particular career path and what kind of activities they engaged in as children and who may have mentored and inspired them on their journeys. There are clearly themes that emerge from this book, and I know that I will return to it time and time again, because Stephanie Espy has put together a stunning volume. Many of the 44 females in the book speak of curiosity as a child about the world, about playing outside, about enjoying working on puzzles and noting patterns, and also having a stubbornness when it comes to solving problems and not giving up! 

I bought a copy for my niece and will be purchasing more to share with administrators, my female doctoral students, and also benefactors.

Below is a photo of my daughter, a summa cum laude Geology graduate, and my niece, an ocean engineering graduate, both STEM Gems, with the book. And the day after this photo was taken, they ran a half marathon, which speaks to their stamina and dedication.

They look great after covering 13 miles in rather warm weather at the Twin Reservoirs Half Marathon in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Yesterday, I brought over a copy of my new supply chain book and the STEM Gems book for our Isenberg School of Management Dean Mark Fuller for some enjoyable summer reading.
And last week, I celebrated with the co-author of the supply chain book, Dong "Michelle" Li,  and my doctoral student, Deniz Besik, both books.

To all girls and young women out there, believe in yourselves! Thanks to Stephanie Espy for her hard work in producing this very valuable book and congratulations!