What's Your StORy?

Banafsheh Behzad

Banafsheh Behzad

September 2015 What's Your StORy?
Assistant Professor, Information Systems Department, College of Business Administration, California State University, Long Beach

More questions for Banafsheh Behzad?
Check out the Open Forum on INFORMS Connect!


What has been your best INFORMS experience?
The first INFORMS meeting I attended was the 2010 Annual Meeting in Austin. I was a first year PhD student at the time. Once I was my presentation was finished, one of the audience-members who is an expert and very well known in the field approached me with compliments about my research and that was so encouraging for me.


What prompted you to enter this field? Why?
Operations research is a very exciting field. On the methodological side, it offers a wide range of problem-solving techniques. In terms of the application, one has the option to choose the real-life problem of interest with the goal of better decision making and efficiency. It is very interesting to have the opportunity to work on a research project and see the real impact of it on society.


What do you think are the most significant barriers for women/minorities in STEM careers? How could they be remedied?
I think part of it is the culture. People have always seen more men involved in STEM fields and naturally they think these fields are male-exclusive. Particularly, they think men might be more capable of overcoming the challenges in STEM fields. Each and every one of us has to put an effort to change this culture. As a professor, we should especially encourage our female students to go to graduate school to increase the diversity. We should also start from our own children. We shouldn’t let our daughters and sons be raised with these stereotypes. Starting from the very early ages, even the toys that we buy for our children matter.


What is something you learned in the last week?
99.84% of the land in the state of California is suffering from drought.


Tell us how WORMS has impacted your life/career.
Being involved in WORMS has been a rewarding experience. Women and their challenges have always been a concern for me. Even the smallest impact I can have matters, and what is better than the impact I might have in my own field? Compared to a few years ago, WORMS now offers more activities and opportunities at the INFORMS Annual Meeting and has more student involvement, which is promising.


What is the best advice you can give to students in your field?
This is not only for the students in operations research, but in general for any PhD student. The “4 P’s of success” (courtesy of Jere Doyle) are: passion (love what you do, enjoy every second of it), patience (be patient with your research; the solution is not always easy to find and that is the beauty of it), persistence (never give up--PhD is a long journey), and principles (practice integrity and honesty in your research and with your co-workers).


What interest do you have outside of work that might surprise us?
I love cooking. To me, cooking is an art. I always enjoy trying new recipes from all over the world. I am also a blogger. It is now more than eight years that I have a blog in Farsi and I write regularly on different topics. I also like to use this opportunity to introduce a new YouTube channel, which has recently been launched: ORiginals: outstanding research in everyday language, hosted by myself and David Morrison. We usually feature guests with an OR/MS background and discuss their cutting-edge research. Please visit and subscribe!


What is the #1 most played song on your iPod?
“Someone Like You” by Adele