Plenaries & Keynotes

Plenary: Riding Technology Waves: Perspectives and Opportunities for Operations Research

This talk begins with a fly-by of almost six decades of information technology beginning with its use to automate business processes and extending to its current role in consumer self-service, the internet of things, and in intermediating social processes. The resulting “data exhaust” together with the availability of low cost computing capacity spawned the age of analytics, the rise of big data, the birth of cognitive computing and the reinvigoration of artificial intelligence. The past, current and potential role of analytic methods in these technology waves will be discussed, with focus on the opportunity to use analytics and automation to create new data. Areas in need of further study by the Operations Research community will be highlighted.

Brenda Dietrich, Ph.D.
Arthur and Helen Geoffrion Professor of Practice
Operations Research and Information Engineering
Cornell University
  • Brenda Dietrich is the Arthur and Helen Geoffrion Professor of Practice of Operations Research and Information Engineering at Cornell University.  Previously she was an IBM Fellow and Vice President. She holds a BS in Mathematics with highest honors from UNC and an MS and Ph.D. in OR/IE from Cornell. She joined IBM in 1984 and has worked in the area now called analytics and/or data science for her entire career.  She, and teams she managed, applied data and computation to business decision processes throughout IBM and for IBM clients.  For over a decade she led the Mathematical Sciences function in the IBM Research division where she was responsible for both basic research on computational mathematics and for the development of novel applications of mathematics for both IBM and its clients.  In her tenue as Director of Mathematical Sciences she launched the COIN-OR open source initiative, which was awarded the INFORMS Impact Prize in 2014.  While at IBM she also served as the Chief Technology Officer and Strategist for IBM’s Business Analytics group and led Emerging Technologies in the IBM Watson Group.   In addition to her IBM work, she has been the president of INFORMS, has served on the Board of Trustees of SIAM, and is a member of several university advisory boards. She was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2014.


Plenary: Adopting a Risk-Based Approach to Passenger Screening

In 2011, the Transportation Security Administration began piloting a risk-based approach to aviation passenger screening. This effort represented a fundamental change in the government’s thinking about aviation security.  Today, more than 350 million travelers receive expedited screening, and the approach is widely accepted.  Adaptations of the U.S. program are functioning in Canada, Germany, Israel, Netherlands and the U.K.  However, during the development of this initiative TSA leaders faced several policy decisions relating to accepting risk, treating passengers differently, and how to segment passengers into risk categories.  This talk provides an insiders’ perspective on TSA’s efforts to implement risk-based security from one of the initiatives leading architects.

Kenneth C. Fletcher
Kestrel Hawk Consulting, Inc.
  • Mr. Fletcher’s professional career spans more than 40-years including military, private sector, and civilian government service. He is currently the President and founder of Kestrel Hawk Consulting, Inc., a risk management consultancy company he founded in 2017.  He retired from federal government service after 14-years at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), where he served in a variety of executive positions including Assistant Administrator/Chief Risk Officer, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Risk Based Security, and Deputy Federal Security Director at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. He also served as a Senior Advisor to the TSA Administrator and Deputy Administrator and is a principal architect of TSA’s risk-based security approach to transportation security and the TSA Precheck program. Mr. Fletcher is a retired U.S. Navy Officer with 23-years of active duty service. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations and Information Systems Management from Northern Illinois University, and a Master of Arts in Security Studies (Homeland Defense and Security) from the Naval Post Graduate School.


Keynote: Energy Industry Transformation through Advanced Analytics

The regulated energy utility industry is in the midst of a massive transformation being driven by several inexorable trends: the growth of distributed energy resources, the desire to transition to a carbon-free economy, the desire of regulators to change the regulatory construct between society and utilities, asset digitization, the speed and costs of computing, and an aging workforce all contribute to an industry in a state of great flux. This presentation will explore how one utility, National Grid, is embracing Advanced Analytics to not only survive these disruptions, but to thrive in the energy landscape of the future.

Jorge Calzada
National Grid
Advanced Data & Analytics Department
  • A first-generation American, Jorge was born in Mexico and raised in Southern California. Jorge has a BS in Operations Management and MS in Information Systems from Northeastern University. He also has an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.  While at MIT Sloan, Jorge and two classmates founded IdentiCert, Inc., a high-tech start-up company tackling the problem of last-mile residential deliveries for companies like UPS and FedEx.  For the last ten years, Jorge has been focusing his attention on solving the problems at the heart of the Energy Industry.  Currently, Jorge is a Director of Science, in the Advanced Data & Analytics department of National Grid.  

    The internal Advanced Analytics team is charged with using data and quantitative analytical techniques to find the best approach to solve the problems faced by utilities in the 21st century, including: Resource Allocation, Daily Scheduling, Revenue Optimization, Supply Chain Optimization, Material Demand Forecasting, and Emergency Response Modeling, including Predictive Storm Damage Modeling. 

    Jorge is co-author of several papers on advanced analytics including Resource Allocation Under Uncertainty and Improving Emergency Storm Planning using Machine Learning. Jorge has presented on these subjects including the predictive storm damage model at several utility conferences, state government conferences, the IEEE, sustainability and resiliency conferences, and the White House Climate Datapalooza. He also holds a patent for his work relating to IdentiCert. In 2014, Jorge was honored by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce as one of Ten Outstanding Young Leaders. He serves as a board member for InnerCity Weightlifting, an organization dedicated to breaking the multi-generational cycle of violence, using weightlifting as a pathway to trust, hope, inclusion, and economic mobility.  In his free time, Jorge enjoys golf, running, and leading his son’s cub scout den.


Keynote: Operational Innovation to Profitably Achieve Net Negative CO2 Emissions

Operational innovation in the construction industry and the palm oil industry could increase profitability and reduce the CO2 emissions associated with those industries (perhaps even to net negative levels), and thus substantially reduce global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. I will describe new teaching materials and research that illustrate these hopeful prospects.

Erica Plambeck
The Charles A. Holloway Professor of Operations, Information, and Technology
Stanford University
  • Erica Plambeck is the Charles Holloway Professor of Operations, Information & Technology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Much of her research and teaching-innovation promotes social and environmental sustainability through improved operations and supply chain management.


Keynote: Learning in Games 

Selfish behavior can often lead to suboptimal outcome for all participants, a phenomenon illustrated by many classical examples in game theory. Over the last decade we developed good understanding on how to quantify the impact of strategic user behavior on the overall performance in many games (including traffic routing as well as online auctions). In this talk we will focus on games where players use a form of learning that helps them adapt to the environment, and consider two closely related questions: What are broad classes of learning behaviors that guarantee high social welfare in games, and are these results robust to situations when game or the population of players is dynamically changing.

Éva Tardos
Department of Computer Science
Cornell University
  • Éva Tardos is a Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University, was Computer Science department chair 2006-2010. She received her BA and PhD from Eotvos University in Budapest. She joined the faculty at Cornell in 1989. Tardos’s research interest is algorithms and algorithmic game theory. She is most known for her work on network-flow algorithms, approximation algorithms, and quantifying the efficiency of selfish routing. She has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is an external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She is the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards including the Packard Fellowship, the Goedel Prize, Dantzig Prize, EATCS Prize, Fulkerson Prize, and the IEEE Technical Achievement Award. She is editor editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the ACM, and was editor in the past of several other journals including the SIAM Journal of Computing, and Combinatorica, served as problem committee member for many conferences, and was program committee chair for SODA’96, FOCS’05, and EC’13.


Keynote: Networks to Save the World: OR in Action

Networks have evolved to become the foundational framework for a wide range of applications, beginning with classical transportation and logistics problems. In this talk, I will feature network-based results in multiple areas such as: perishable product supply chains from food to healthcare, disaster relief, cybersecurity, and the new Internet, and illustrate how netwORks are transforming our understanding of the world and enhancing our futures.

Anna Nagurney
John F. Smith Memorial Professor
Director, Virtual Center for Supernetworks
Department of Operations and Information Management
Isenberg School of Management
University of Massachusetts
  • Professor Anna Nagurney is the John F. Smith Memorial Professor in the Department of Operations and Information Management in the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (see  Anna is also the Founding Director of the Virtual Center for Supernetworks. Anna received her AB, ScB, ScM, and PhD degrees from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and devotes her career to education and research that combines operations research / management science, engineering, and economics. Her focus is the applied and theoretical aspects of network systems, particularly in the areas of transportation and logistics, critical infrastructure, and in economics and finance. Anna is the author/co-author of over 185 refereed journal articles and 14 books and has been recognized for her research with honors and awards, including being elected an INFORMS Fellow in 2013 and an RSAI Fellow in 2007.  She is the recipient of a 2016 INFORMS Volunteer Service Award for Distinguished Service,  the 2007 WORMS Award,  and the 2005 Moving Spirit Award of INFORMS. She has been the Faculty Advisor to the award-winning UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter since 2004. She has also been recognized with the Chancellor’s Medal at UMass Amherst in 2000 and with the Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity in 2005.

    Anna has held a variety of visiting positions, including being a Science Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University,  a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University in the UK, a Visiting Professor at the University of Gothenburg and at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. She has also been a Fulbrighter twice – in Austria and Italy and her research has received support from the NSF and the Rockefeller Foundation.