Tag Archives: invited talks

Punk Rock OR is on PBS!

I do not believe teaching is confined by the walls of the classroom or the boundaries of the university. I am passionate about talking to the public about science, engineering, operations research, and analytics. I especially enjoy talking about my research. Operations researchers and industrial engineers make important contributions to basic science and important applications, yet what we do has been a well kept secret. This is why I agree to give public talks about my research whenever I can. Doing so gives me an opportunity to educate the general public and improve scientific literacy. I have always hypothesized that most people would appreciate the work we do if they knew more about it. My experiences suggest that my hypothesis is true.

I gave a talk that was recorded on campus in the Spring. It aired on the University Place series on July 23, 2018 on Wisconsin Public Television, Madison’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) station. My talk aired the same day as the Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge: Week 5 Pies Recap. What great company! You’ve gotta love public television 🙂

Here is my talk title and description:

Advanced Analytics: From Emergency Response to Brackets

University of Wisconsin-Madison Industrial and Systems Engineering professor Laura Albert will talk about how engineers use math models and analytics to solve problems and design systems. She will provide an overview her discipline of operations research and advanced analytics and will discuss its wide ranging applications, focusing on examples from her research that addresses problems in emergency response and bracketology.

You can watch the video on PBS using the link below. The talk has closed captioning. My dad endorsed the video and told me he particularly liked the graphics in my talk.
https://player.pbs.org/viralplayer/3014502909/

The unedited talk is on YouTube:

I gave an earlier version of this talk at the Middleton Public Library for their “Scholar’d for Life” lecture series. The lecture series is in partnership with the UW Madison Speaker’s Bureau (my profile is here). Taking the “Wisconsin Idea” as its starting point, this series aims to promote lifelong learning, intellectual curiosity, and engagement between academics and the community as a whole.

The organizers at the library asked me to speak about applications of industrial engineering. I thought that no one would show up for a talk marketed like that. I was wrong. About 100 people showed up for my talk. It was a packed house! The attendees were really engaged and asked me many questions after the talk.

I was thrilled that a few kids in middle school and high school came to my Middleton Public Library talk, including girls. I try to embody the spirit of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer movement in my public engagements to challenge stereotypes about engineering. One of the girls who attended the talk told me I reminded her of Lucy Wilde from Despicable Me 2 and showed me this picture:

I’m not sure if Lucy is my doppelganger, but I certainly like her hair and style 🙂

 

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The Math Behind March Madness

On March 14, 2017 I gave a talk about bracketology, March Madness, and the College Football Playoff in the Discovery Building on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. The talk was recorded and can be viewed here or here:

My slides from the talk are here:


My teaching journey: there and back again

Today I gave the keynote talk for the spring New Educator’s Workshop for teaching assistants at UW-Madison. I’m posting my slides here. My talk was entitled, “My teaching journey: there and back again.”

Abstract. I will talk about my journey from a painfully shy TA to a professor who is comfortable in the classroom and when talking to the media about research on the evening news. I will talk about strategies I used to be effective in the classroom given my strengths (and weaknesses).  Topics include time management, active learning techniques, easy ways to teach with technology, tips for managing student expectations, and things I wish I knew when I was starting to teach.

 

Blog posts that inspired my presentation:

 


Punk Rock OR goes to Oberlin College

This week I visited Oberlin College to deliver the Fuzzy Vance Lecture in Mathematics. I was honored to be the 20th Fuzzy Vance lecturer. Each year, Oberlin invites one mathematician (or an operations researcher/fake mathematician in my case!) to visit campus, participate in classes, and give a lecture (the “Fuzzy Vance Lecture”) to the general public.

My evening talk to the public was about my research in emergency medical services and emergency response. My slides and some pictures from my visit are below. I will post my teaching materials on my blog next week.

Oberlin is a small liberal arts college that attracts intelligent students who have eclectic interests. Many students are interested in music, creative writing, and computer science in addition to math. I enjoyed meeting with students when I taught Bob Bosch’s undergraduate course in optimization, which mostly has students from math and computer science.

Bob Bosch and his colleagues in the Oberlin math department were fantastic hosts. They filled me in on the history of the Fuzzy Vance Lecture series, but there was some disagreement about whether Fuzzy Vance was actually fuzzy (nicknamed for fuzzy hair or for another mysterious reason). I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that Oberlin is known for its unusual albino squirrel population. I am a fan of campus squirrels: the squirrels at my alma mater have had an interesting history.

Here are some memories from my visit.

 

The poster for the Fuzzy Vance Lecture Series in Mathematics

The poster for the Fuzzy Vance Lecture Series in mathematics

 

 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame advertisements were everywhere in Cleveland. I was thrilled to be able to visit the museum during my visit.

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Bob Bosch and I found The Clash exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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My favorite crosswalk in Oberlin, which boasts one of the best music conservancies in the US.

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Pablo Picasso, Chair and Owl (1947) from the Oberlin art museum

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Claude Monet, The Red Kerchief from the Oberlin art museum


a journey to the German OR Society Conference

Earlier in September, I gave a semi-plenary at the 2014 German OR Conference in Aachen, Germany. It was a wonderful conference and experience that will inspire at least another blog post or two. The German OR Society and Marco Lübbecke were wonderful hosts and conference organizers. There were more than 850 attendees, 500 talks, and an impressive group of plenary and semi-plenary talks.

Earlier I blogged about Mike Trick’s plenary talk on Major League Baseball scheduling and analytics that opened up the conference. I’m finally getting around to blogging about my talk on emergency medical services. For another take, see Mike Trick’s blog post about my talk. I learned a lot by giving the talk and talking to German researchers. Emergency medical services are operated in different ways in different parts of the world. It was refreshing to talk to other researchers who are looking at healthcare delivery issues from a different perspective than we have in the United States. It was also fun to catch up with two of my favorite bloggers (Mike Trick and and Marc-Andre Carle) at social events and meet some Punk Rock OR readers from across the pond.

I posted the slides to my talk below.

I took a few pictures from the conference and from Aachen that capture some of the highlights of the trip.

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At the reception with Mike Trick and Marc-Andre Carle.

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At the reception.

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At the conference.

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There were pretzels at almost every meal and snack break.

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A statue in a square in Aachen.

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A square in Aachen.

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What looks like a panther statue.

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I ran into Belguim and the Netherlands and found the Dreiländerpunkt [three-country point].

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The conference bags were pretty snazzy.

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A snapshot of me blogging about Mike Trick’s keynote as taken by my laptop. I didn’t realize how serious I look–blogging is a lot of fun, I swear!

The German OR society has a great mascot: a GORilla!