Engaging the Media: Telling Our Operations Research StORies to the Public

My article “Engaging the Media: Telling Our Operations Research Stories to the Public” has been published in SN Operations Research Forum. I wrote this article after appearing in the news many times, especially after the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic began (see my media appearances here). The paper’s abstract is as follows:

Academic research occasionally captures the attention of the media. When this happens, there is a small window of opportunity to disseminate the real-world impact of our research and the value of our operations research and analytics expertise to the public. To do so, we must package our messages for public consumption. In this article, I summarize principles for interacting with the media, describe what various media interactions are like, and offer tips for capitalizing on one’s expertise. Finally, I reflect on what we have to offer to journalists and the value of telling our stories to the public.

I feel strongly that applied operations research should be outward facing to some level. Otherwise, the research has little chance to make an impact beyond the discipline. I wrote a brief statement about my outreach philosophy at the end of my research statement in my promotion dossier:

My research formulates new operations research models and algorithms for solving important and interesting real-world problems of national interest and concern. I take this responsibility to serve my profession and our nation quite seriously. I believe that it is essential for researchers who are working on problems in the public sector to disseminate their research findings to the public through outreach in addition to dissemination in academic journals. Translating research concepts into practical messages is critical for influencing public policy and transitioning research concepts into practice. This is a common theme that permeates all my research activities.

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