Faculty Research: Isenberg Professor Shares Supply Chain Expertise During Pandemic
April 24, 2020
Isenberg’s Anna Nagurney, John F. Smith Memorial Professor of Operations Management, has been getting calls from media outlets since it became clear that the coronavirus pandemic was leading to unusual supply chain shortages, from toilet paper and canned soup to surgical masks and pharmaceutical products.
Nagurney’s academic research, which focuses on how supply chains can be optimized to respond to global crises, is in high demand among journalists and policy-makers: She has recently been quoted in several articles, including one in the Verge where she explains how retailers are having to totally rethink the algorithms they use to determine what items to keep on their shelves. In USA Today, Nagurney is quoted discussing shortages of diapers, and in the Morning Consult, she explains how shortages of blood supplies and pain medication could disproportionately affect people of color with sickle cell anemia and other chronic diseases. Her more general thoughts about supply chains during the pandemic have been featured on the UMass Amherst homepage, Greenwire, and in podcasts hosted by the American Mathematical Society and Farm Talk radio in Fargo, North Dakota. She appears (from her home office, via video feed) on the broadcast of NBC 10 in Boston to chat about problems in the meat supply chain.
A piece she contributed to The Conversation details how the global crisis is having a particularly harsh effect on vital blood supplies, specifically with the closures of schools and other locations where mobile drives are often held. That article, which was reprinted by numerous outlets, is now the most read piece by a UMass Amherst faculty member in The Conversation in the past year. Its wide dissemination led to an invitation from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) to contribute to its Analytics magazine feature, Coronavirus Chronicles.
In April, the article in The Conversation was highlighted in a letter written by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services requesting updates to blood donation policies that discriminate against gay men. The letter was signed by nineteen other state attorneys general, including Maura Healey of Massachusetts.
“I am so touched to have my op-ed on blood and the coronavirus included in this major governmental memo,” says Nagurney. “The research on the critical blood supply chain is fundamental and done in collaboration with PhD students, now Isenberg alums.” She adds that it is thrilling to have the work of Isenberg’s Virtual Center for Supernetworks, which she directs, recognized in such a significant way. “It shines a light on the creative, impactful work at Isenberg that helps society during these extremely challenging times.”