Judith Liebman

July 2, 1936 – July 8, 2023

Brief Biography

Liebman Presidential Gallery Portrait

Judith Liebman (née Stenzel) served as the first female president of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA). She was born in Denver, CO the oldest of three children. Liebman was inspired to pursue research in physics after reading a biography of the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, Marie Curie. Liebman attended the University of Colorado nearby her family’s home in Red Feathers Lakes. She received her bachelors in physics in June, 1958.

Liebman worked first as an engineer at Convair Astronautics in California before moving to Ithaca, New York. There she was employed as a programmer for General Electric Corporation followed by a similar position with the Department of Chemistry at Cornell University. While she and her husband Jon were at Cornell, where Jon was pursuing a PhD in Civil Engineering under Walter Lynn, who had applied linear programming to wastewater design.  At Jon’s recommendation, she took a survey course from Richard W. Conway, which inspired her to puruse a PhD degree in OR at Johns Hopkins, where Jon became a professor. In 1965, Liebman resumed her studies at Johns Hopkins University and worked as a research assistant at the Department of Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. Due to the strength of the medical school at Hopkins, the university was a becoming a leading institution in health care systems research. In 1968, Liebman moved to the Department of Public Health Administration.

Liebman helped bring mathematical programming and modeling to the distribution of health care services. Her dissertation dealt with the development of a mathematical programming model to use in staffing extended nursing care units. In addition to the allocation of personnel, Liebman also explored the employment of queueing theory. She remained on the Hopkins faculty after earning her PhD before taking a position with the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

By the late 1970s and 1980s, Liebman’s research began to incorporate the use of operations research in transportation. In addition to her publications on health care systems, Liebman worked on infrastructure problems such as pavement design and bridge replacement. During this time, she was also becoming more active in professional organizations. Liebman was a member of the Council of ORSA before serving as the association’s president in 1987. She was the Vice Chancellor of Research and Dean of the Graduate School at Illinois at the same time.

Over the course of her career, she has been recognized as a pivotal figure in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Liebman has made strides for women in the industry and has encouraged the continued education and growth of the entire discipline. She has also chaired the advisory committee for the National Science Foundation Engineering Directorate. For over twenty years, Liebman has been included in various lists of Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in American Education, and American Men and Women of Science. She is the recipient of the George E. Kimball Medal and is a Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences.

Even though she has retired from teaching, Liebman’s influence continues to be felt in the OR community. In addition to their distinguished careers in OR, she and her husband, Jon, are renowned collectors of glass sculpture. 

Other Biographies

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Judith S. Liebman. Accessed February 5, 2015. (link)


University of Colorado, BA 1958

Johns Hopkins University, PhD 1971


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Oral Histories

John Stenzel and Judith Stenzel Liebman (2013) Interview by Linda Bell, August 16. Fox Acres, Red Feathers Lakes, Colorado. (transcript)

Memoirs and Autobiographies



Urbana-Champaign News Gazette  


Awards and Honors

George E. Kimball Medal 1996

Institute for Operations Research and Management Science Fellow 2002

Professional Service

Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), President 1987, Secretary 1983-1986

Selected Publications

Kittler M. E., Lamy P.P., & Liebman J. S. (1970) Further Investigation in the Use of Queueing Theory to Predict Manpower Requires in an Outpatient Pharmacy. American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 27(6): 480-483.

Bellmore M., Liebman, J. S., & Young, J. P. (1972) Allocation of nursing personnel in an extended care facility. Health services research, 7(3), 209-220.

Glankwahmdee A., Hogg G. L., & Liebman J. S. (1979) Unconstrained Discrete Nonlinear Programming. Engineering Optimization, 4(1): 95-107.

Liebman J. S. (1982) A Model of Hospital Occupancy Costs and Rates. Proceedings of the 14th Annual Conference of the Health Services Division of AIIE, 323-335. San Diego, CA.

Liebman J. S. (1985) Optimization Tools for Pavement Management. Proceedings of the North American Pavement Management Conferences, Volume 2.

Liebman J. S. (1986) Implementation Issues for Operations Research Software. Computers and Operations Research, 13(2-3): 347-358.

Liebman J. S. (1991) Women in Science and Engineering: Past, Present, and Future. Women’s Studies Twelfth Anniversary Collection. University of Illinois: Champaign, Illinois.

Landon L. & Liebman J. S. (1999) Teaching Nonlinear Programming Using Cooperative Active Learning. Interfaces, 28(4): 119-132. 

Additional Resources