I had the pleasure of speaking at the AAAS Meeting on February 17 in a session entitled Dynamics of Disasters: Harnessing the Science of Networks to Save Lives. I talked about my research that addresses how to use scarce public resources in fire and emergency medical services to serve communities during severe but not catastrophic weather events. My research has application to weather events such as blizzards, flash flooding, derechos, etc. that are not so catastrophic that the National Guard would come. Here, a community must meet demands for fire and health emergencies within a community using the resources that they have during “regular” days – e.g., ambulances and fire engines – while the transportation network is impaired due to snow, flooding, etc. Everything is temporarily altered, including the types of 911 calls that are made and travel and service times as they are affected by an impaired transportation network. Plus, it’s always a lot of fun to mention “Snowmaggedon” during a talk.
Anna Nagurney organized the session, and the other speakers included David McLaughlin, Panos Pardalos, Jose Holguin-Veras, and Tina Wakolbinger. They talked about a number of issues, including:
how to detect tornadoes temporally and spatially by deploying new types of sensors
how to evaluate people and even livestock during hurricanes and floods
what the difference between a disaster and a catastrophe is
what types of emergency logistics problems require our expertise: national versus internationa, public vs. non-profit, mitigation vs. preparedness vs. response, short-term disaster vs. long-term disaster
I applaud Anna Nagurney for organizing a terrific session. It was fascinating to talk to people in my field about disasters without focusing too much on the modeling details. We all mentioned which types of methodologies we used in the talk, but we focused on the takeaways, actionable results, and policy implications. And it’s clear that the opportunities in this area are almost endless.
The AAAS Meeting is all about science communication to a large audience. The talks focus on broader impacts not specific model details. It’s not always easy for me to take a step back from my research and explain it at a higher level, but I get a lot of practice through blogging and talking about my research in my classes. Still, I was nervous. I am a mere blogger – the conference is heavily attended by real science journalists. In fact, I had to submit speaker information and a picture ahead of time so that journalists prepare for my talk. I truly felt like an OR ambassador – it was quite an experience.
Other sessions at the AAAS Meeting addressed several fascinating topics. One session was on writing about science, and it featured a writer from the Big Bang Theory. Another session was about communicating science to Congress. Many of the speakers were from science publications and PBS shows.
I have at least one other blog post on science communication in the works, so stay tuned.
This post continues my series of slidecasts about football. My first slidecast is here.
Today’s topic addresses when a two point conversion is better than an extra point after a touchdown. As you may guess, it is best for a team to go for two when they are down by eight. You can see other scenarios when it is best to go for two, based on the point differential and the remaining number of possessions in the game.
This presentation is on Wayne Winston’s book Mathletics, which is a fantastic introduction to sports analytics.
With the Superbowl coming up, I created three sports analytics slidecasts for analyzing football strategies. I will post one per day here on the blog.
The first slidecast deals with the decision of whether a football team should go for it on fourth down (or should they punt). The presentation is adapted from the book Scorecasting by Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Werthem. Wayne Winston blogged about this, and his blog post went viral. Here is another look at this issue.
By now, you’ve probably realized that you should become a member of INFORMS. It’s frugal ($37 per year) and valuable. Go for it! If you are not into OR, join AMS, ASA, ACM, SIAM, or whatever interests you.
Mike Trick made a plea for graduate students to sign up for twitter accounts. It’s a great idea, and I’ll let him explain why.
Students from state universities with strong STEM programs tend to be the most recruited in the nation. Those are great choices if you want a job when you graduate.
My justification for paying off student loans is from Megan McArdle at The Atlantic.
Wedding costs and why they are so biased are discussed by Carl Bialik at the WSJ.
Should you use a coupon on a date? I think that is a great opportunity to signal that you are financially savvy–it should attract other like-minded mates. A columnist on the Washington Post agrees. Their non-scientific poll suggests that I am not alone.
My parents could have written this Saturday Night Live skit called “Don’t buy stuff.” It’s not a bad financial philosophy.