What's Your StORy?

Rozhin Doroudi


October 2017 What's Your StORy?
PhD student in Industrial Engineering, Northeastern University

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What prompted you to enter this field? Why?
I loved math when I was in high school, and I knew that I wanted to study engineering, but I was not sure which major to choose. In my second year of high school, our algebra teacher offered an after school course named "The Art of Problem Solving with Mathematics." After taking that course, which was an fundamental O.R. course, I found a great passion for solving real problems with mathematics, and I found Industrial Engineering to be well aligned with this passion.


What do you think are the most significant barriers for women/minorities in OR/MS careers? How could they be remedied?
Mental barrier that they don't "belong" to this field. By saying this, I am not trying to undermine the existing systematic discriminations against these groups, but I think overcoming this mental barrier is a very effective step.
Seeing more women/minorities in this field especially in leading roles can be very encouraging. Therefore, having female mentors or mentors from minority groups can be a great help. Also, being part of a minority supporting group like Women in OR/MS and Women in STEM is a way of getting involved in an active movement toward a less discriminated work environment.


If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
My advisor Dr. Ozlem Ergun is a great mentor. I admire her research path, since the majority of the problems that she has dealt with have meaningful societal impacts. In addition, she is a woman and an immigrant, and this facilitates conversations about different issues that I am dealing with.


Tell us about your experience as the president of the Northeastern University Student Chapter, along with your involvement in several other INFORMS communities (i.e. Analytics Society, Computing Society, WORMS), and how it has affected your life/career?
I became president of Northeastern University Student Chapter in June 2016. The previous board did an amazing job starting the chapter, but back then we were a small group. The current board has decided to set our priority to expanding our community-initially by reaching out to students in industrial engineering, O.R., and business and then becoming the primary organization for campus-wide student activities involving optimization and analytics. I am proud that we kept our promise of having bi-weekly events during the last two semesters (totaling 15 events), and we increased our chapter size from 18 to 110.
Now, after a year, INFORMS student chapter provides a variety of services to and is a substantial part of the Industrial Engineering department.
As president, I found a new appreciation for what all volunteers at INFORMS are doing. It has also strengthened the feeling of belonging to this society. Now, I want more people to know about INFORMS and get involved in some way or another.
Participating in the Student Leadership Conference was also a great experience, where I learned valuable leadership skills from experts, and found new friends that share the same passion for OR/MS.


What advice do you have for new students entering this field?
The best advice that I can think of is what I was given when I entered this field. In the first year of my undergraduate degree, my professor, Dr. Hamed Tarkesh, said that we are problem solvers, do not let the label of Industrial Engineering stop you from learning any other skills that can be helpful in solving problems that you find important.


If you had to work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?
I am passionate about my current research that deals with drug shortages in the U.S. The more I get involved in the research the more I feel the necessity and urgency of using optimization and analytics tools to make drug supply chain more resilient to disruptions. Our research team is an interdisciplinary team, which provides a broader view of the issue and a very vibrant learning environment for each of us.


Which INFORMS event do you look forward to the most?
The INFORMS Annual Meeting. Participating in the wide variety of sessions including keynote speeches by people from academia and industry, tutorial sessions, and general sessions, always motivates me, and makes me feel more energized to work on my own research.
INFORMS events provide new opportunities that you may not have thought about. As a personal experience, during the 2015 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, I learned about the Pro Bono Analytics program. I am now involved in a project through this program, where we are trying to help a non-profit company in the Boston area restructure their data collection, retrieving, and analysis processes.


What is your dream job?
I would like my job to have a meaningful impact on people's lives. For me, this would turn a job into a career. I also like to work in a challenging environment. I am a lifetime learner and I get a great joy out of learning new subjects and mastering new skills.


What does your typical weekend look like?
I usually spend weekends with my friends; we have movie nights every other week, which is something I look forward to. I also enjoy cooking; I don't have time to cook proper food during the week, but on weekends I enjoy going to farmers' markets and cooking with fresh ingredients.
There are some skill sets and tools that I don't use in my research directly but I think I need to learn to be a better researcher, I try to catch up with those too during the weekend.