Doing Good with Good OR: Applying Operations Research for Societal Impact

Friday, February 18, 2011: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
156 (Washington Convention Center )
Operations research is the application of analytical methods and tools to understand and improve systems. While operations research (OR) has most commonly been associated with commercial/industrial applications, there is tremendous potential for operations research in nonprofit/humanitarian domains, both in the advancement of operations research methodologies and in the impact on society resulting from such work. OR applications in nonprofit/humanitarian domains are challenging from a research perspective because of the unique characteristics. At the same time, methodologies and insights derived from this research can have substantial impact in society. Operations research is a discipline that spans many fields. This symposium will present views from engineering, business, and medical schools, as well as government agencies, foundations, local nonprofit agencies, and public sector consulting firms. The symposium will introduce several rich problems that arise in nonprofit/humanitarian applications, including disaster relief distribution and community health-care delivery. Importantly, it will be shown that operations research techniques developed in the commercial sector are often not applicable in nonprofit/humanitarian domains; new approaches must be developed to incorporate crucial issues such as equity and efficacy. Practitioners will present case studies in which operations research techniques have directly led to improvements in society.
Karen Smilowitz, Northwestern University
Ozlem Ergun, Georgia Institute of Technology
Paul Detjen, Mobile C.A.R.E. Foundation
and Nathaniel Hupert, Cornell University
Yann LeTallec, Clinton Health Access Initiative
Improving Global Health with Operations Research
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