Impact Prize

2018 - Awardee(s)

2018 Awardee(s)

Laura Albert, Kenneth C. Fletcher, Sheldon H. Jacobson, Adrian J. Lee, and Alexander Nikolaev


Aviation security is composed of methods and techniques used to safeguard aircraft, their passengers, and their crews. The events of September 11, 2001 had an enormous impact on aviation security in the United States. One of the most significant changes was the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the responsibilities they assumed for security operations at commercial airports throughout the United States. For the next decade, essentially all travelers were assumed to have the same level of security risk, and as such, subjected to the same level of security screening. In October 2011, the TSA launched the TSA PreCheck© program—a risk-based security strategy that aligns passenger risk with security resources.
More than six million passengers are enrolled in TSA PreCheck, with an additional seven million travelers participating as members of other trusted populations and many more passengers receiving TSA PreCheck benefits from airlines. Approximately one million passenger screenings at commercial airports across the
United States every day are TSA PreCheck qualified passengers. TSA PreCheck screening lanes are available at nearly 450 domestic airports with more than 50 U.S. and major foreign airlines participating. Similar programs patterned after the TSA PreCheck model are functioning in Canada, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, extending the application of this concept globally.
Implementing TSA PreCheck is widely heralded as transforming aviation security. The design and implementation of this program relied on operations research to transform an abstract concept into a practical tool. The early work in this area involved collaboration between academia and personnel at the TSA. Dynamic optimization models were formulated and applied to capture and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of aviation security systems. The approach uses real-time assignment policies to adapt to variations in the day-to-day airport threat environment. This combined work provided insights regarding risk-based security, had direct impact on the implementation of
the TSA PreCheck system, and laid the groundwork for further academic research on risk-based security assessment.

For their pivotal role in the creation and widespread adoption of risk-based aviation security strategies, INFORMS is pleased to award the 2018 Impact Prize to Laura Albert, Kenneth C. Fletcher, Sheldon H. Jacobson, Adrian J. Lee, and Alexander Nikolaev.

Purpose of the Award

The Impact Prize, awarded once every two years, is intended to recognize widespread impact in the practice of operations research. It may be awarded to an individual or a single set of collaborators. The award may be given for the original research (if these ideas have been widely adopted), and/or for special efforts required to bring the research to a practical form (e.g., implementation as a software package or the communication of a body of research through writings, teaching, and consulting). The important criterion is breadth of use in practice and relevance to operations research. The technical assessment of the quality of the work is considered secondary to the degree to which it has been widely adopted.  

Princeton Consultants

The Impact Award is generously sponsored by Princeton Consultants, Inc.  

This is not a research award. The awards committee is not judging the quality of a body of work. Instead, emphasis will be placed on evaluating the breadth of the impact of an idea or body of research. If the major contribution of the individual or group is bringing an idea to a practice community, the precise nature of this contribution needs to be understood (leading a software company; lectures and writings).

The prize consists of a framed citation and a cash award of $1,000.

Initial Nominations Due May 30, 2020 (extended from April 30, 2020)

Nominations will take place in two phases.
The initial nomination should be brief (no more than a page), and should contain the name of the person or set of collaborators responsible for the contribution; a brief summary of the idea or technology that is the basis of the award; a description of the industry or practitioner population that uses the idea; and the nature of the contribution made by the person or group being nominated (creator of the idea or technology).

Click here for instructions »


2020 Committee Chair

Professor Ruth Williams
University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Click here for committee information.

Past Awardees

2018 Awardee(s)

Laura Albert, Kenneth C. Fletcher, Sheldon H. Jacobson, Adrian J. Lee, and Alexander Nikolaev

Laura Albert, University of Wisconsin-Madison Kenneth C. Fletcher, Kestrel Hawk Consulting, Inc Sheldon H. Jacobson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Adrian Lee, University of Illimois at Urbana-Champaign Alexander Nikolaev, University at Buffalo
2016 Awardee(s)
Peter P. Belobaba, MIT Thomas M. Cook Guillermo Gallego, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Robert L. Phillips, Nomis Solutions, Inc. Barry Smith, Sabre Holdings
Kalyan T. Talluri, Imperial College Business School Garrett J. van Ryzin, Cornell Tech E. Andrew Boyd, University of Houston and Houston Public Media
2014 Winner(s)
Brenda Dietrich, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center JP Fasano, IBM John Forrest, IBM Lou Hafer, Simon Fraser University Brady Hunsaker, Google Laszlo Ladanyi, IBM Robin Lougee, IBM Theodore K. Ralphs, Lehigh University Matthew Saltzman, Clemson University
2010 Winner(s)
Fred Glover and Solver
2008 Winner(s)
Dr. Thomas L. Saaty
2004 Awardee(s)
Fred W. Glover, OptTek Systems, Inc.