a week after INFORMS

Now that I’ve had about a week to digest the 2008 INFORMS Annual Meeting, here are some of the highlights as I experienced them (in no particular order).

I am a bit biased, but I think the WORMS events at INFORMS were among the highlights of the conference. I am grateful to all 193 of you who came to the reception and the sold out lunch. The WORMS events have really grown since I first attended an INFORMS conference.

My favorite part of the INFORMS conference every year is the WORMS lunch, where the Award for the Advancement of Women in OR/MS is given. Dr. Candi Yano (of the University of California Berkeley) received the 2008 award, and although her speech was very modest, it was inspirational and moving. Like her predecessors, I am simply blown away by what she has done for women in OR/MS. Dr. Karla Bourland (of Overstock.com) gave a particularly moving speech that highlighted how she overcame “exogenous circumstances” to obtain a PhD at the University of Michigan while being mentored by Dr. Yano.

If you missed Dr. Lawrence Wein’s (of Stanford) Philip McCord Lecture, you missed a good one. He spoke about potential catastrophic emergencies, including anthrax attacks, pandemic flu outbreaks, fingerprinting at border crossings, and botulism in the milk supply (I’m glad I’m a soymilk drinker!). What was most interesting about Dr. Wein’s talk was that he focused on the back story that tied all of his homeland security articles together. The behind-the-scenes details of how he wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times, testified before Congress, and hobnobbed with the movers and shakers in the highest levels of government was fascinating. Talk about Doing Good with Good OR! My favorite nugget from the lecture: to prepare for an anthrax attack, buy N95 surgical masks and put pantyhose over your head (and surgical mask) in the event of an anthrax attack. You can read more about the lecture here.

The only sad part of the conference was that I lost a knitting needle.

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