What's Your StORy?

L. Beril Toktay


November 2017 What's Your StORy?
Professor of Operations Management, Scheller College of Business

More questions for L. Beril Toktay?
Check out the Open Forum on INFORMS Connect!


What prompted you to enter this field? Why?
My high school used to organize career days in our junior and senior years. One of the contributors was an industrial engineer who worked in the local meat processing and packing factory. He spoke of his job as a process engineer and optimizer with such enthusiasm (despite what I thought was a particularly uninspiring setting) that I was really intrigued. I wanted to study math, but I decided to double major in Industrial Engineering and Mathematics instead. How I got interested in Sustainable Operations? My first PhD project was developing procurement policies for the single-use Kodak camera, one of the first remanufactured consumer products. I got very excited that I could use my modeling skills to help firms do well by doing good, and over the course of my career, increasingly focused my energy on sustainable operations and supply chain management research, teaching, and outreach.


What has been your favorite INFORMS experience so far?
Probably the doctoral colloquium I attended as a PhD student – everything was so new and exciting and full of possibility! I've also attended many great plenary talks.


Tell us something you've recently learned.
We were recently in Chios, Greece, which is across my hometown of Izmir, Turkey. We call the island Sakiz, meaning "mastic," an aromatic resin that has been used as medicine since antiquity and is still used in traditional folk medicine of the region. I learned that although there are mastic trees elsewhere in the Mediterranean, since about AD50, mastic production has been confined almost exclusively to Chios. My family collected a few drops of mastic from trees by the road and felt very privileged!


What are current issues/trends/challenges in sustainable O.R.?
Developing models and solutions for a circular economy, engaging productively with business strategies that relate to climate change, expanding sustainability from a primary focus on environmental issues to social issues and business-community engagement.


If we were sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it's been for you, what would we be celebrating?
That I managed to achieve my exercise and fitness goals!


What interest do you have outside of work?
Action and sci-fi movies, political satire shows, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.


What's the most interesting book you read this year?
The Three-Body Problem, a science fiction novel by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin.


Tell us a funny math joke.

A mathematician was traveling on a train.

She told her companions: "There were 264 cows on that field."

"Wow, how did you do that?!" they asked.

"Easy! I just counted the legs and divided by four."