What's Your StORy?

Sina Ansari

Sina Ansari

March 2018 What's Your StORy?
PhD Candidate in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences,
Northwestern University

More questions for Sina Ansari?
Check out the Open Forum on INFORMS Connect!


What prompted you to enter this field?
Human kind decision-making process and how to make this process more efficient have always been intriguing to me. It wasn't until college that I was introduced to industrial engineering and management science, where I started to learn how operations research tools improve efficiency of systems with humans as the center of the decision-making unit, both in manufacturing and service. In my graduate studies, I have become interested in the interactions between customers and service providers; the vast majority of which extend over time. However, the temporal aspects of service delivery have not yet been analyzed as carefully as its monetary aspects; knowing how to control the timing of service delivery can give a competitive advantage to the service providers in many industries from call centers to hospitals. After spending hours
in an Emergency Department (ED) as a researcher, I became interested in patients' experience waiting in EDs. I am currently working on data-driven models in healthcare operations, which has led to the development of practical policies to control and optimize the service waiting times and system's throughput.

I summarized some of our findings in my weblog https://behavioralom.wordpress.com/.


What advice do you have for new students entering this field?
I will pass on what my mentors always told me: Get involved in your professional society/section, volunteer to learn and experience, invest in networking at INFORMS meetings, and focus on having a positive impact on society when doing research.


Tell us about your role as president of the Northwestern University INFORMS Student Chapter.
NU Chapter of INFORMS provides professional development and social networking opportunities to PhD students. As the president, I was in charge of coordinating the routine/newly-initiated programs and collaborating with other professional/student chapters to hold joint events. Our team initiated programs such as Women Luncheons to empower women in engineering to actively engage and contribute to their community as well as Lunch & Learn seminars to provide an opportunity for all PhD students to share their research with peers. These initiatives earned us the INFORMS Student Chapter Annual Award at the Summa-Cum-Laude level (highest level of award granted) in 2016.


What member benefit do you find most useful/helpful?
"Coffee with a member" for first-time INFORMS Annual Meeting participants. This wonderful program connects INFORMS students with some of INFORMS senior members.


What is your favorite O.R. application?
I am intrigued that an extension of O.R. can be applied to healthcare systems, therefore healthcare operations and analytics is my favorite application area.


If we were sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it's been for you, what would we be celebrating?
I have been working on two healthcare related projects: one regarding patient wait-time in emergency departments and one on the opioid epidemic. I hope I can celebrate these projects' impact on the health community and society at the end of the year.


Tell us something that not many people know about you.
I occasionally play violin and I learned how to play from my dad who is a professional violinist.


How could we promote analytics careers to high school students?
Programs like Splash at Northwestern are a good way to promote analytics careers to high school students. Splash is a one-day event where PhD students get to teach local high school students anything they want, right on Northwestern's campus. This is a good way to introduce analytics and analytics careers in a simple, understandable language.


When I graduate, my perfect job would be…
My long-term vision of life is to be an insightful professor, devoting myself to teaching, conducting research, and contributing to the field. One of the perks of being a professor is the opportunity to share the knowledge gained from your research with motivated students, some of whom are on the verge of stepping into the real world and are eager to build on their prior knowledge and professional experiences. I believe the key to a successful interaction, either as a teacher or mentor, is to actively engage students in constructing their own knowledge through hands-on, minds-on experiences.


Which Seinfeld character do you relate to?
I like all main characters in Seinfeld. But if I have to pick one character to relate to, it would definitely be Jerry Seinfeld himself. Jerry's character is intriguing because he is able to observe the chaos around him but not always be a part of it. This is what we usually do in O.R.: observe, analyze, and then solve the issue.