The red ink from grading exams combined with the still-green grass on campus has me in the holiday spirit. Here’s my blog tradition of an end-of-year update.
The biggest update from 2015 was a change in location. I made the move to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this summer and it has proved to be a Pareto-optimal life solution. The Industrial and Systems Engineering department at RPI is a nice place to be a junior faculty. Already, interactions with my colleagues have led to new insights and directions for my research, and mentoring has led to a potential industry project and an award nomination. We love our new community in Troy, and my husband found a super-charged job as a data analyst for Vicarious Visions.
In 2015, I have been lucky to lead a talented research team that has helped further research on the development of mathematical representations of complex systems and processes to better understand the implications of their design and operation. My research has focused on three main stems of discovery: military logistics, distribution systems, and peer-to-peer sharing systems. In 2015, I received my first NSF funding. The project focuses on peer-to-peer sharing systems, which are systems where a resource owned by an individual is collectively shared with a group of users. The shared resource can be a physical resource (like a power drill) or a human resource (like the ability to perform a task). By focusing on access over ownership, these Systems allow physical assets to be consumed as services and tasks to be completed by independent individuals. Examples include sharing economy companies like Uber, Flexe, Cargomatic, and Instacart.
I’m thankful that I was able to convince Shahab Mofidi to transfer with me from UCF to RPI. He is working on his Ph.D. research on two-stage multi-product procurement decisions with cost fluctuations. He did an excellent job presenting his work at ISERC (to 3 generations of his academic family) and INFORMS. It’s fun to jointly put our heads together during our weekly research meetings.I started working with Uzma Mushtaque this summer, and she has jumped right into her research on developing and using models that incorporate assortment properties into random utility models. Specifically, she is interested in how to explicitly model no-choice probabilities associated when individual users are recommended an assortment of options to choose from. Her work has wide application from recommendations in e-commerce and Netflix, as well as facilitating freelancer options in peer-to-peer resource sharing apps. Shahab and she gained valuable experience attending the Purdue CIBER PhD Consortium on International Operations Management. Uzma is excited to have her first research abstract accepted to present at ISERC in 2016. Finally, I am excited to have Yuan (Eric) Meng join my group. He will research bi-level optimization models for peer-to-peer sharing systems.
As new members joined, a number of students graduated in 2015. Patrick Reilly defended his Master’s Thesis this spring on “Propagation of Unit Location Uncertainty in Dense Storage Environments”. With help from Dr. Kellie Schneider, a journal out of his work has been submitted for review. Mohamed Awwad defended his Ph.D. dissertation this Fall, which focuses on searching in dense storage environments. We have received constructive reviews back on a submitted paper and are currently working on revisions. Finally, Faraz Ramtin (who was the first student to jointly work with me) graduated this Spring with his Ph.D. His work on MIAPP AS/RS is ongoing and has led to interesting discussions with other facility logistics researchers who are modeling other aspects of the technology used for distribution. He has two accepted publications in IIE Transactions and is preparing a third contribution for publication.
Undergraduate researchers bring a rad perspective to our research. This semester I had six undergraduates who worked on projects associated with supply chain modeling of ship-from-store fulfillment, sharing economy models for supply chains, and seabased logistics.
On my drive from Florida to New York, I got an awesome tour of Duke’s campus from Catherine Ninah, who was an undergraduate researcher at UCF and conducted research via an REU. Catherine Ninah and Kristin Elias were involved with ICubed at UCF – their collaborations with art students created some cool art based on our seabased logistics research.
In 2015, I finally got to teach a logistics course in the spring, and enjoyed incorporating my research and the material handling and logistics US roadmap into the course. I just wrapped up a rewarding class on the Design and Analysis of Supply Chains. One of the introductory assignments was to have students create a “Supply Chain and You” slide to motivate the students to think about the importance and impact of the course topics on the students’ lives, and also allowed me to get to know the students better. Here’s mine:
The course ended with a review of the topics helped by students’ memes. Here is my favorite, which reminds students when calculating the amount of safety stock you need to use the square root of the lead time.
My mission to create more Industrial Engineers has continued in 2015. I enjoyed participating at CAMP Connect, presenting to the Eureka! Program of Girls Incorporated in the Capital Region, to the RPI student chapter of IIE about “What is Industrial Engineering and Why Does it Rock?” and attending the Women at Rensselaer Mentor Program.
My 2016 calendar already contains a number of projects that will allow me to learn a lot. Some I am most excited about include an interdisciplinary academic-industry partnership proposal on smart, secure on-demand authorization systems for logistics and distribution (with material scientists and computer science researchers from SDSMT), presenting at the Transportation Research-Board workshop on “On-Demand and Sharing Economy for Freight” and leading a panel discussion at the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) on Crowdsourcing and Collaborative Warehousing and Logistics.