In June 2016 industrial engineering major and Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS) member Logan Mathesen traveled to Waikoloa, Hawaii for the INFORMS 2016 International Conference with the help of the Undergraduate Research Travel Grant. Logan has been conducting research under Dr. Fran Zenzen and attended the conference to present his research titled, “Modeling Megacities: An Approach to Understanding Dense Urban Area.” Logan shared a few details of his trip after his return.
In layman terms, what was the conference about?
The conference was a meeting of professionals as an opportunity for colleagues to meet and present research. The conference hosted a lineup of keynote and plenary speakers interspersed with invited tracks with emerging topics ranging from global supply chains to social networks to medical systems and military applications.
What motivated you to present at this conference?
My undergraduate honors thesis director, Dr. Fran Zenzen, had suggested that I apply to this conference as an opportunity for me to present my research in front of my peers.
Tell us about some of the conferences you attended!
I attended a couple of sessions regarding the medical field. I found myself attracted to these sessions and I have become even more interested in research in the medical field. One presentation that stuck with me was a presentation on optimizing the scheduling of Operating Rooms in pediatrics hospitals. The speaker rather elegantly walked through his motivation for the research, the background, and the set-up of his optimization problem sets. He then spoke on the difficulties of finding an optimal solution, and how different heuristic techniques could be employed. I will always keep in mind that heuristics can be nearly as effective as optimal solutions at a computationally minimal cost.
I saw another presentation in the medical field that was concerned with a creating a predictive model for hospital admittance. Hospitals often face shortages in bed spaces and become overwhelmed when people enter an emergency department and require admittance to the hospital. The research presented was focused on creating a predictive model for patients who enter the ED and whether or not they would need to be admitted into the hospital. It was an interesting application of data mining and data analysis. I will continue to remember that data analytics can be applied in nearly every situation.
What do you think was the best part of the conference?
The best part of the conference was the fact that it was hosted in beautiful Waikoloa Hawaii!
Has your involvement with this conference influenced your research plans?
I have become much more interested in the medical field. My mom was a nurse as I grew up and I always had an inkling of interest in the field. However, after this conference I now see how widely optimization and other IE principles can be applied into research of the medical field. I will definitely be inquiring with professors at ASU that I know have research partnerships with the MAYO clinic.
What did you wish you knew prior to the conference?
How laid back the whole experience would be. I was very stressed about how my presentation would go, and how I would fit in to the rest of the conference. I ended up making some good friends and meeting a lot of contacts that I would feel comfortable reaching out to in the future.
Any suggestions for other students regarding conferences?
Try to get out of your comfort zone and attend sessions that are of interest to you. Stick around after the session has conclude and speak with the presenters. Every presenter I spoke to was glad to talk with me not only about their research but also about their career and how they got to where they are. I met a number of people that I would be eager to work with, all of them were so welcoming.
Going to a conference? Have research-related travel needs? Apply for the Undergraduate Research Travel Grant!