INFORMS communities – the essential connection

INFORMS President

Terry Harrison

President Terry Harrison

INFORMS has a focus in three areas of activities: publications, meetings and communities. In this article I’ll explain and highlight the opportunities to further your career development by connecting with others in a variety of ways via INFORMS communities.

About half of INFORMS members are part of one or more communities (described below). Over time, the message has been clear – members who participate in communities are more satisfied with their membership and are better connected with others. While every non-member who registers at either the spring or fall meeting gets an INFORMS membership, it is an important goal for the Board of Directors to promote widespread involvement in communities across the entire membership.

The Basics

The types of INFORMS communities are quite varied. A brief description of each kind follows below. You can find the most complete and up-to-date information at:

INFORMS societies are the flagships of the INFORMS communities. Societies are significantly larger than the sections, chapters or fora, and they focus on a common theme. They require at least 500 members to be formed. Societies can sponsor their own meetings and journals.

INFORMS sections are technical interest groups devoted to advancing the professional interests of members in specialized and technical aspects of our profession. Sections are smaller, focused bodies of INFORMS.

INFORMS Fora unite colleagues with professional interests that are neither disciplinary nor geographic. The goal of fora is to facilitate interaction among members with these interests and provide a medium for formal reporting of topics of interest to the INFORMS board. Examples are the Junior Faculty Interest Group (JFIG) and Forum on Education (INFORM-ED).

Regional Chapters
INFORMS chapters unite colleagues in particular geographical areas, offer the opportunity to gain immediate access to advances in the field and establish a personal networking system in the locale. INFORMS has chartered more than 30 chapters internationally. These subdivisions sponsor regular meetings with speakers and demonstrations of new methods and applications in the field. In addition, they often provide educational programs and sponsor annual meetings in their areas.

Student Chapters
An INFORMS student chapter is a venue for learning, a catalyst for professional advancement and an opportunity for camaraderie. Within a chapter, student members from business, engineering and science programs can join with faculty to organize seminars and discussion groups about new methods and applications of OR/MS. The chapter also enables students to go beyond the bounds of course work and institution as they engage in research activities that lay the groundwork for their future as OR/MS professionals. Occasional social outings round out an INFORMS student chapter’s calendar.

Omega Rho Honor Society
Founded in 1976 and formally a part of INFORMS since 1998, Omega Rho is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and a foundation for excellence in Operations Research and Management Science disciplines. The 39 current Omega Rho chapters include about 6,000 student and faculty members. Induction into this prestigious society is an honor, and membership is for life.

The INFORMS Roundtable addresses the needs of practitioners of OR/MS. Roundtable members are organizations, not individuals, each represented by a ranking manager or executive in charge of OR/MS activity. Its purpose is to promote OR/MS excellence in practice, to provide practitioner-inspired leadership to the profession and to promote the personal professional growth of Roundtable representatives. Roundtable membership provides a way for new OR/MS groups to leverage the hard-won lessons of established groups and for mature groups to keep their edge through exposure to new ideas and peer networking.

Personal Story

I finish with a personal note. Many years ago, as a relatively new member with an interest in O.R. and forestry, I arrived late one evening for the fall meeting. After check-in, I found a restaurant that was still open for dinner. I struck up a conversation with a nearby patron who happened to share my interest in O.R. and forestry. It was Andres Weintraub. Since there was no special interest group to match our needs at that time, we helped to form one within Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment. The forestry group remains an important part of my INFORMS experience to this day, 25 years later.

To find a community or if you have further questions, contact Mary Magrogan, Director of Membership, Subdivisions and International Activities at Mary.magrogan@INFORMS.ORG.I look forwarding to hearing from you. Contact me at