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Happy Summer from CHHS! 

As the weather warms up here in Atlanta, our team at CHHS wishes you a cool and pleasant summer. We sincerely thank you for your continued support in 2022. If you are interested in becoming a Lifetime Friend of CHHS, please visit our website to learn more. We look forward to continuing our collaborations this year! 

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Student and Alumni Highlights


Congratulations, Graduates! 

Congratulations to Francisco Castillo-Zunino and Yasaman Shahi for graduating with their Ph.D. degrees in May 2022! Francisco's thesis was titled "Discrete Optimization and Statistical Analysis for Healthcare Applications." One of his recent papers, "Health Spending and Vaccination Coverage in Low-Income Countries," explores financial indicators that are significant predictors of vaccination coverage in lower income countries. Yasaman's thesis "Analytics for Sustainable and Retail Operations," focused on two the applications of analytics in various public sector and business applications, including facility prioritization for environmental inspections and a neural network framework that balances flexibility and interpretability for price optimization. Congratulations Francisco and Yasaman!

CDC ORISE Welcomes New Fellows

Ph.D. students Arden Baxter and Daniel Kim have earned fellowships with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is an educational and training program designed to provide college students, recent graduates, and university faculty opportunities to connect with CDC’s unique resources. They join Ph.D. student Akane Fujimoto and Melike Yildirim (ISyE Ph.D. 2021), who were selected to the program in 2021. 

As noted in ISyE communications, Arden's work has included "Covid-19 disease modeling and evaluating intervention strategies, as well as modeling for decision-making in humanitarian systems such as emergency response for resource coordination." Daniel also has work related to Covid-19. "His other work includes incentive mechanisms to increase post-disaster debris recycling and analysis of data on mental health medication prescribed to children." Congratulations Arden and Daniel! 

Congratulations, Ph.D. Students, for Major Milestones!

April Zhuoting Yu

April Zhuoting Yu successfully completed her Ph.D. thesis proposal in May 2022. Her thesis focuses on the applications of operations research in disease prevention, control, and treatment, including: i)  vaccine pricing across a group of countries considering equity;  ii) personalized childhood immunization schedule recommendations; iii)  the impact of diagnostic testing capacity and compliance with self-isolation on the spread of an infectious disease; and iv) utilization and post-transplant survival of whole vs. split liver transplantation.


Kirthana Hampapur successfully completed her Ph.D. thesis proposal in April 2022. Her thesis includes two streams: (i) effective appointment scheduling in rehabilitation centers, and (ii) a sophisticated simulation model of the deceased-donor kidney transplant allocation system in the US, quantitatively evaluating the impact of policy changes and organ offer acceptance strategies, with the goal of improving patient outcomes and reduce organ wastage.  Congratulations, April and Kirthana, and best of luck with next steps!

CHHS Research and Thought Leadership

Covid-19 Variants and Vaccine Efficacy

Ph.D. student Daniel Kim's work “The Balancing Role of Distribution Speed against Varying Efficacy Levels of COVID-19 Vaccines under Variants,” evaluates the impact of the interactions between the speed of distribution and efficacy of multiple vaccines on health outcomes. The results highlight the importance of having access to a portfolio of vaccines during a pandemic. Co-authors include CHHS Director Pinar Keskinocak, affiliate Professor Pelin Pekgun (GT ISyE Ph.D. 2007) from the University of South Carolina, and Dr. Inci Yildirim from the Yale University School of Medicine.


Evaluating Schools' Reopening Strategies during Covid-19

Ph.D. students Arden Baxter and Buse Eylul Oruc co-lead research on “Evaluating Scenarios for School Reopening Under COVID19,” using an agent-based simulation model to test different back-to-school scenarios. The results suggest that "hybrid in-person and online reopening strategies, especially if offered as an option […] to opt-in, provide a good balance in reducing the infection spread compared to the regular reopening strategy, while ensuring access to in-person education." Co-authors include John Asplund, a research scientist at Metron, Inc, and ISyE Professors Pinar Keskinocak and Nicoleta Serban.


The Impact of Testing Capacity and Isolation during Covid-19

Ph.D. Student April Zhuoting Yu (along with Professors Pinar Keskinocak and  Lauren Steimle, and Dr. Inci Yildirim from the Yale School of Medicine) recently published their work “The Impact of Testing Capacity and Compliance with Isolation on Covid-19: A Mathematical Modeling Study." The team "developed a compartmental model and simulated numerous scenarios using the dynamics of COVID-19 as a case study." Their results "quantified the significant benefits of early start of testing and high compliance with isolation." Their work provides insights for policy decisions and communication in future pandemics.

Dr. Melike Yildrim

Cost-Effective Depression Screening

Melike Yildrim's (ISyE Ph.D. 2021) developed a discrete-time nonstationary Markov model to simulate the progression of depression, presented in a recent publication “Cost-Effectiveness of Depression Screening for the General Adult Population." This work evaluated the cost-effectiveness of alternative depression screening schedules compared to no screening, and provides important insights into the benefits of depression screening. Co-authors include Professor Bradley Gaines at UNC School of Medicine, CHHS Director Pinar Keskinocak, Professor Brian Pence at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Healthand Professor Julie Swann at NC State University Department of Industrial Engineering.  


Routine Immunization Performance - A Case Study

Led by CHHS affiliate Professor Matthew Freeman from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, this study etablished that "The essential components of a vaccine delivery system are well-documented, but robust evidence on how and why the related processes and implementation strategies prove effective at driving coverage is not well-established." The research team "identified critical success factors associated with advancing key policies and programs that may have led to the substantial changes in routine childhood immunization coverage in Zambia between 2000 and 2018." Co-authors include Francisco Castillo-Zunino (ISyE Ph.D. 2022), CHHS Research Director Professor Dima Nazzal, and CHHS Director Pinar Keskinocak



Congratulations to 2022 Health and Humanitarian Supply Chain Management (HHSCM) Cohort! 

The 2022 HHSCM Certificate Program took place over three weeks throughout April and early May, with a fantastic group of participants who joined the online lectures live from all over the world. We would like to congratulate them on their hard work in the program and their dedication to improving their communities and beyond. Certificate recipients attended three interactive courses - Responsive Supply Chain Design, Inventory Management, and System Operations. 

Several scholarships were provided due to the generosity of The UPS Foundation - thank you for your continued support of CHHS! We would also like to thank our brilliant instructors and collaborators - Professor Julie Swann at NC State University, Professor Ozlem Ergun at Northeastern University, Professor Paulo Gonçalves at Università della Svizzera italiana, and Dima Nazzal, Professor and Research Director at CHHS. 

CHHS Director Receives Outstanding Service Award

CHHS Director Pinar Keskinocak was honored with the Class of 1934 Outstanding Service Award. The award, presented at the 2022 Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon, is given to an individual who has "benefited the Institute, profession, school or department, or the general public in an exemplary manner." Congratulations, Professor Keskinocak! Read more about her work and impact here.

CHHS Research Director Wins IISE Competition

Dr. Dima Nazzal

Professor Dima Nazzal, CHHS Research Director, won first place in the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Innovation in Education Competition for developing the "Cornerstone Design" course for industrial engineering students at Georgia Tech. Professor Nazzal explained that “The course lays out the foundation for design thinking using a project‐based learning approach, interactive sessions with instructors, and a goldmine of past capstone senior design projects that ISyE has kept for years organized in a database." Congratulations, Professor Nazzal! You can read more about the award here

 Professor Keskinocak Keynote Speaker at IISE 2022

The IISE 2022 Annual Conference and Expo took place May 21-24 in Seattle, Washington. Pinar Keskinocak served as a keynote speaker, and discussed how industrial engineering and operations research methods can help in infectious disease prevention and control. Examples include projecting disease spread geographically and over time, estimating resource needs for prevention and treatment, evaluating the impact of interventions, and informing resource allocation decisions.

Panel Discussion - Medical Supply Chains

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine hosted a workshop titled "Lessons from COVID-19 for the Future of the Public Health Emergency Enterprise: What Happened to the Plans?" CHHS Director, Pinar Keskinocak, spoke during a panel discussion centered on "Medical Countermeasures and other Medical Supply Chain Considerations". The other panelists were Professor Gigi Kwik Gronvall, an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Professor Jarrod GoentzelDirector of the MIT Humanitarian Supply Chain Lab


CHHS Affiliate Spotlight


Atlanta Businesses Adressing Climate Change 

Professor Beril Toktay, the faculty director of the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, helped facilitate a conversation titled “The Business of Climate Solutions, Local to Global" between Georgia leaders. Attendance included Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera and Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian. You can read more about their conversation here

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AIMING TO IMPROVE THE HUMAN CONDITION AND PROMOTE WELLNESS through research, education, the development of tools, and collaborations that transform decision-making and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of health and humanitarian systems.

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