STOR Colloquium: Lauren Davis, North Carolina A&T University
Title: Improving equity and access in hunger relief supply chains: models for prediction and distribution of uncertain supply
During the past decade, an increasing number of natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies have prompted significant research in the area of relief chain logistics and supply chain management. Much of the research has focused on challenges associated with stocking and distribution of relief supplies in response to sudden-onset disasters. However, issues surrounding slow onset and persistent disasters (like food insecurity) present a unique set of challenges, particularly with respect to the management and distribution of donated supply. Based on a partnership with a local non-profit hunger relief organization, we describe the relief supply chain associated with the provision of food aid to populations suffering from hunger. We present predictive and descriptive models that quantify the availability of supply over time, characterize demand, and optimize the distribution of uncertain supply to ensure equity and improve access. Implications of our findings on operational efficiency and service delivery are discussed.
Dr. Lauren Davis is a professor in the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She received her B.S. in Computational Mathematics from Rochester Institute of Technology; M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from NC State University. Her research focuses on decision-making under uncertainty primarily using stochastic optimization techniques (Markov Decision Processes, stochastic programming) and simulation. Her work has been applied to solve optimal stocking, transportation scheduling and distribution decisions in for-profit and non-profit supply chains. She has more than 40 peer-reviewed journal papers and refereed conference proceedings addressing issues related to inventory management, transportation scheduling, port operations, and emergency response in areas such as food supply chains, food security, port operations, and humanitarian relief. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Department of Homeland Security, and US Department of Agriculture totaling more than $4 million in grant funding. Additionally, her research examining hunger relief supply chains has been featured in CNN’s Great Big Story and NSF’s Discovery article series. She is currently the Principal Investigator for an NSF-funded National Research Traineeship grant that explores food security and hunger relief using computational data science.