INFORMS News: People

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Jane Ammons, professor at Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a recipient of the WORMS Award from INFORMS for the Advancement of Women in OR/MS, was the keynote speaker at the Women in Industrial Engineering Academia 2012 (WIEA 2012) held earlier this year in Istanbul, Turkey. The workshop was sponsored by the National Science Foundation with support from Kadir Has University, the host in Istanbul.

The theme was promoting career progression of women in academia in the areas of operations research, industrial and systems engineering, statistics and related fields, and to stimulate international collaborations.

The PIs of the project were Alice Smith (Auburn University and another past winner of the WORMS Award from INFORMS), Janet Twomey (Wichita State University) and Zeki Ayag (Kadir Has University). 

Richard Larson (aka “Dr. Queue”), a professor at MIT and a past president of INFORMS, was interviewed by author Alex Stone for a New York Times article (“Why waiting is torture,” Aug. 18) on the psychology of queueing. The article caught the attention of nationally syndicated radio host Michael Smerconish, who invited Larson on his show a few days later for an extended live interview on the topic. Both interviewers referenced a counterintuitive solution to long waits and passenger complaints at a Houston airport’s baggage claim. The solution: Airport officials rerouted bags to a distant carousel, forcing passengers to walk six times longer to fetch their bags, yet complaints went down. Why?

“Often the psychology of queuing is more important than the statistics of the wait itself,” Larson told Stone, noting that occupied time (walking to the baggage claim) feels shorter than unoccupied time (standing at the carousel). In his interview with Smerconish, Larson said that “queueing is a state of mind,” adding that no organization does a better job of managing long queues than Disney. Disney’s secret, according to Larson: entertaining those in line.