Sports, airport lines and STEM careers

Compiled by Ashley Kilgore and Olivia Schmitz

INFORMS members, initiatives and journals continue to make news on a wide range of topics in a variety of forums. Following are recent examples of “INFORMS in the News”:

Understanding sports analytics

An “Insights Weekly” item from Ugly Research highlighted an article in the June issue of OR/MS Today by INFORMS SpORts members Gary Cokins, Walt DeGrange, Stephen Chambal and Russell Walker. The OR/MS Today article demonstrates that sports analytics can be more easily understood by applying classification techniques. This includes analytics for major league players and managers, as well as individual and amateur sports, and franchise and venue management.
- Insights Weekly, June 30

Making a purchase? Not doing research can cost you

Ayelet Israeli of Harvard Business School, and Eric Anderson and Anne Coughlan, both of Northwestern University, share data from their research published in an article in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science regarding whether the manufacturer’s minimum advertised price (MAP) is in fact the lowest price for which an item can be purchased.  They found that both unauthorized and authorized retailers will price below MAP, unauthorized retailers as much as 50 percent of the time and authorized retailers up to 20 percent of the time. They also shared that when making a purchase, doing sufficient research can mean an additional 5 percent to 13 percent discount below MAP.
-, June 10

The analytics of airport lines

In an interview on’s “Live at Four,” Laura McLay, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and INFORMS vice president of marketing, provides insight on the scientific and analytical perspective that can help minimize the frustration of airport lines.
-, May 31

University of Wisconsin-Madison welcomes INFORMS student chapter

After attending several INFORMS conferences and recognizing the opportunities that they provide for communicating and collaborating with peers, a group of graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison established an INFORMS student chapter on campus.

“Being a part of INFORMS is a really good opportunity to step back from what you’re doing specifically in your research, and learn about what other students are doing, learn new methods, and be social with other graduate students,” said Erkin Otles, an industrial and systems engineering graduate student.
- University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Engineering, May 24

University of Arkansas recognized for academic contribution to O.R. practice

On May 25, the journal Interfaces published “Rothkopf Ranking,” recognizing practice-oriented operations research between 2009 and 2015. Among the recognized was the University of Arkansas, ranked 19th for their student-focused contributions to the field through research tools and procedures to improve the way companies do business.
- University of Arkansas, News, July 15

Tight job market for STEM Ph.D.s seeking university professor careers

Richard Larson

Richard Larson

With a growing surplus of Ph.D.s in fields such as biology, chemistry and science, it’s becoming more difficult for individuals with an advanced degree to obtain tenured university positions. While there is a high demand for doctorate students in industry, the demand for academics in those same fields is low. According to [INFORMS member and former INFORMS president] Dr. Richard Larson, an operations research professor at MIT, and his colleagues, the demand shifts can be predicted by calculating Ro’s for various fields. The article stated, “Ro is the average number of Ph.D.s that a tenure-track professor will graduate over the course of his or her career, with an Ro of one meaning each professor is replaced by one new Ph.D. The highest Ro is in environmental engineering, at 19.0. It is lower – 6.3 – in biological and medical sciences combined, but that still means that for every new Ph.D. who gets a tenure-track academic job, 5.3 will be shut out. In other words, Dr. Larson said, 84 percent of new Ph.D.s in biomedicine ‘should be pursuing other opportunities’ – jobs in industry or elsewhere, for example, that are not meant to lead to a professorship.”
- The New York Times, July 14

Employing the traveling salesman problem to optimize Pokémon Go

With the location-based augmented reality game Pokémon Go exploding in popularity, [INFORMS Fellow] William Cook, professor at the University of Waterloo, applies the traveling salesman problem to create the most efficient routes in several U.S. cities and universities for Pokémon players to reach all the game stops in that area. ORMS
- University of Waterloo, The Traveling Salesman Problem, July 13

Ashley Kilgore ( is the public relations manager at INFORMS. Olivia Schmitz ( is the marketing coordinator at INFORMS.