Operations researcher

Operations research applies analytical and mathematical methods to help make better decisions. It deals with such questions as “What is the optimal way to schedule a set of tasks?” and “What is the most efficient way to arrange the flow of traffic?” Examples include the scheduling of a sport team’s games, the restocking of large businesses such as Walmart, the scheduling of surgery in hospitals (i.e., arranging physicians, patients, nurses, and operating rooms), the synchronization of stoplights in a city, the evacuation of a building or a stadium in case of a terrorism threat, and the implementation of efficient delivery routes for UPS or airlines. Eric Murphy is a mathematician who did operations research for the U.S. government. He was advising the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to best move supplies and troops in and out of foreign countries. Sommer Gentry does operations research as a research associate for the John Hopkins University School of Medicine while she is a mathematics professor at the US Naval Academy. She made national news when she teamed up with her husband, a surgeon, to use operations research to find a more efficient way to match kidney donations with recipients.