Leading scientists in operations research will be in Ottawa May 26-28 to attend the largest gathering of its kind in Canada. The 56th Canadian Operational Research Society Conference, featuring more than 300 presentations from Canadian and international researchers, “is really representative of the variety of approaches being applied to operations problems in a wide range of contexts including transportation, telecommunications, logistics, health care, finance, energy, and the environment,” said Jonathan Patrick, Associate Professor at the Telfer School of Management and one of the conference program co-chairs. The different research tools and methodologies reflect the influence that computer science, mathematics, engineering and the management sciences are having on operational research, he explained. “The common thread is in the effort to design new approaches that can lead to improvements like better use of evidence in decision-making, more efficient organizational processes and workflow, or a reduction in the time and cost needed to achieve work outputs.”

Health care is a focal point of many of these innovations and a key theme of this conference. Professor Patrick, whose own studies focus on applying the methods of operational research to improve the efficiency of health care management, is the coauthor of two papers to be presented under the theme of improved capacity allocation and patient flow in health care. He also chairs a session dedicated to the modeling of health care performance. Patrick will be joined at this conference by several of his Telfer School colleagues who are either chairing sessions or contributing papers as principal investigators and co-investigators. They include Professor Sarah Ben Amor (multi-criteria decision making in health care), Professor Wojtek Michalowski (health informatics), Professor Craig Kuziemsky (interdisciplinary health care teams), and Pavel Andreev (performance management in health care).

The conference also boasts a strong all-around contingent from the Telfer School in many other disciplines, Patrick noted. Finance professors William Rentz and Francois-Éric Racicot will present their research focusing on asset pricing models. Professor Jonathan Li chairs a session on modern modelling techniques in risk management and will also present his research on finance and risk analysis. Professor Dan Lane, a scholar in the areas of community-based management, fisheries and ocean management, and climate change adaption, chairs a session on climate adaptation strategies and will present a paper on sustainable fisheries (with Adjunct Professor Richard Moll).

There will be two keynote presentations. Jonathan Rosenhead, Professor of Operational Research at the London School of Economics, examines whether the field of operations research is prepared to meet complex societal challenges such as climate change. Participants will also hear from Margaret Brandeau, a leading operations researcher whose work focuses on the development of applied mathematical and economic models to support health policy decisions. Brandeau, who is the Coleman F. Fung Professor of Engineering and Professor of Medicine (by courtesy) at Stanford University, presents “Public Health Preparedness: A Multi-Billion Dollar Problem/ Opportunity.”