Vice President - Meetings

Ariela Sofer

Interim Divisional Dean for Engineering
College of Engineering and Computing
George Mason University

Biographical Profile


  • D.Sc. Operations Research, George Washington University, 1984
  • B.Sc. Mathematics, M.Sc. Operations Research, Technion, Israel, 1979

Professional Experience

  • Interim Divisional Dean 2020-present, Associate Dean 2018-2020, GMU
  • Chair, Systems Engineering and Operations Research Department, 2002-2017
  • Professor, 1996-present, Assoc. (1989-1996), Asst. (1994-1989)

INFORMS Activities

  • Chair, Fellows Committee, 2021, and member, 2019-2021
  • Vice President, Subdivisions, 2009-2010
  • President, ACORD, 2008-2009, President Elect/Secretary, 2006-2007
  • Chair, Computing Society, 2003-2005
  • Meetings chaired:
    • General co-chair, 2020 INFORMS Annual Meeting, National Harbor, MD (held virtually)
    • Co-chair, NSF/INFORMS Workshop: Bridging the Gap: O.R. in Medicine and Biology, Pittsburgh, October 2006
    • Co-chair, CSTS Conference, Williamsburg, VA, 1994 
  • Committee Chair:
    • Computing Society Distinguished Service Award, 2021; Selection of Editor-in-Chief, Journal on Computing, 2018; Review of Editor-in-Chief, Journal on Computing, 2015; Farkas Prize, 2015 and 2016
  • Judge, INFORMS Minority Issues Forum Student Poster Competition (2013-present, annually)

Other Professional Activities

  • Board Positions:
    • IFEES, VP for Communications, 2020-2022, Executive Committee, 2018-2020
    • INCOSE, Director of Academic Matters, 2017-2020
    • IISE, Secretary, Board of Trustees, 2014-2017
  • Meetings and Workshops:
    • Co-chair, IIE New Faculty Colloquium, 2009, 2010
    • Co-chair, 3rd International Conference on Model-Based SE, 2010
    • Co-chair, GMU/IBM/AFCEA Workshop, Service-Oriented Architectures, 2008
    • Co-chair, SIAM International Conference on Optimization, Toronto 2002
  • Other Major Committees
    • Chair, IFEES Duncan Fraser Global Award for Excellence in Engineering Education, 2020-2022
    • Chair, Search Committee, Editor-in-Chief, Systems Engineering, 2019
  • Secretary/Treasurer, SIAM SIG on Optimization SIAG/OPT, 1997-2000

Professional Honors and Awards

  • Fellow: INFORMS 2016, IISE 2018, INCOSE 2022
  • Elected Member, Cosmos Club, 2010

Publications Summary

  • Co-author of textbook published by McGraw Hill and in second edition by SIAM, co-editor of four books/special issues, and author/co-author of more than 50 refereed publications

Vision Statement

INFORMS meetings provide our members with unique opportunities for dissemination of the latest research and technologies, and networking and collaboration. Thanks to the extraordinary INFORMS staff and our outstanding member volunteers, INFORMS meetings have been very successful. As VP of Meetings I will work to ensure that our meetings provide excellent value to INFORMS members while supporting the overall INFORMS objectives. My vision concentrates on three intertwined areas of focus: (i) enhancing the conference experience; (ii) broadening participation; and (iii) exploring new opportunities. I believe that my experience in organizing conferences and prior service on the INFORMS Board will support me in achieving these goals.

Among my most relevant experiences was service as general co-chair of the 2020 Annual Meeting. Our conference committee was in advanced preparations when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Initially, we still hoped to hold the meeting in person, but it gradually became clear that we would need to transition to a fully virtual meeting. This required rethinking of every single detail of the meeting, the “who, what, when, where, how and why?” During weekly meetings of the committee with INFORMS staff and the VP of Meetings, we discussed various possible models and formats for the conference. Of particular concern in the transition were the needs of our diverse membership from across the globe, whether from academia or professional practice. It took numerous iterations, but finally we converged on a novel conference framework, and by all accounts, the meeting was very successful.

This focus on the disparate needs of our members will guide me as VP of Meetings. INFORMS conducts a number of Institute-level conferences: Annual Meeting, Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research, CORS/INFORMS International Conference, and topical conferences such as Healthcare or Security. As VP of Meetings I will work with each conference committee to ensure that the breadth of our membership is constantly at the forefront, and that the interests of all members are served and enhanced. Whether your objective is to learn about the latest research and technologies, present your own work, or network, we should strive to fulfill your expectations.

The INFORMS strategic plan designates “inclusion” as one of its core values, and “advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in all we do” as a strategic goal. “All we do” includes meetings. Inclusion means that all members and attendees feel welcome at INFORMS meetings. To this end, I shall work to ensure that future Institute-level meetings be held in locations where all of our diverse members are valued and treated equitably, both culturally and under local laws.

Much of the work in enhancing the conference experience goes hand-in-hand with broadening participation. In particular, I am interested in expanding participation among practitioners, students, and international members. Although our meetings are back to in-person mode, I believe that there are some opportunities in virtual or hybrid meetings or tracks, and hope to explore these further. This would allow participants who do not have the means or opportunity to travel to partake in activities and gain value.

INFORMS also supports subdivision thematic and regional conferences and I will work with our members to support their corresponding needs. I look forward to fostering new special conferences, in particular in emerging areas of global impact such as sustainability or smart growth. A virtual student-focused conference could also be an opportunity to attract students as well as potential employers.

I am honored to be nominated for the position of Vice President, Meetings. If elected, I will pursue this agenda with vigor and dedication.