Fall 2009 UMASS Amherst
Operations Research / Management Science Seminar Series

Date: Friday, October 23, 2009

Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Isenberg School of Management, Room 112

Speaker: Professor José Holguín-Veras

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY

Biography: Dr. José Holguín-Veras is a Professor and Acting Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He received his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering, Magna Cum Laude, from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 1981. He received his M.Sc. from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in 1984; and his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1996. He has taught at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo, The City College of New York (1997-2002), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2002-present). He has received numerous awards, including the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (2001-2006); the Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award in 1996, from the Council on University Transportation Centers –awarded to his research on intermodal freight transportation–, the Salute to the Scholars Award from the City University of New York (in 2000 and 2001); the 2006 Robert E. Kerker Research Award in recognition of Excellence in Research of Special Importance to Practitioners and Scholars of Public Administration and Policy in New York State; the 2007 School of Engineering Research Award; and a Proclamation from the Council of the City of New York (2001). He is a fellow of the State Academy of Public Administration (2006), International Road Federation (1991), the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (1989), the Organization of American States (1982-1984).

TITLE: Emergency Logistics Issues Impacting the Response to KATRINA: What Went Wrong? What Could We Do to Avoid a Repeat?

Abstract: Extreme events pose serious logistical challenges to emergency and aid organizations active in preparation, response and recovery operations, as the disturbances they bring about have the potential to suddenly turn normal conditions into chaos. Under these conditions, delivering the critical supplies (e.g., food, water, medical supplies) urgently required becomes an extremely difficult task because of the severe damages to the physical and virtual infrastructures and the very limited, or non-existent, transportation capacity. In this context, the recovery process is made more difficult by the prevailing lack of knowledge about the nature and challenges of emergency supply chains. As a result, the design of reliable emergency logistic systems is hampered by the lack of: knowledge about the particulars of how formal and informal (emergent) supply chains operate and interact; methods to properly analyze and coordinate the flows of both priority and non-priority goods; and, in general, scientific methods to analyze logistic systems under extreme conditions.

The presentation attempts to contribute to the study of this important problem by providing a succinct description of the key logistical issues that plagued the Katrina response. The logistical failures following Hurricane Katrina, that in August 2005 devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast, provide an example of the need to significantly improve the efficiency of the supply chains to the site of an extreme event. The paper is based, to a great extent, on public accounts of the event and the interviews conducted by the authors during a number of field visits to the Katrina impacted area in the aftermath of the event, as part of a research project funded by the National Science Foundation.

In the presentation, Professor Holguín-Veras will first describe the results of the research conducted about the reasons that explain the logistical debacle. Then, in the second part of the presentation, he will discuss policy implications and analytical formulations to ensure an efficient flow of critical supplies to a site impacted by a natural or a man-made disaster.

This series is organized by the UMASS Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. Support for this series is provided by the Isenberg School of Management, the Department of Finance and Operations Management, INFORMS, and the John F. Smith Memorial Fund.

Dr. Anna Nagurney, the John F. Smith Memorial Professor of Operations Management in the Isenberg School of Management,  is the Faculty Advisor of the Speaker Series.