Henderson Promoted to Full Professor
Shane Henderson, who came to Cornell as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2004, is now a full Professor. Professor Henderson joined Cornell in 2001 from the faculty of the University of Michigan, but his eastward migration started much farther away than that. Henderson grew up in New Zealand and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Auckland. He went to Stanford for his MS and PhD degrees before moving (with a sojourn back at the University of Auckland) to Michigan in 1996.
|Henderson describes research on ambulance relocation that he did with Associate Professor Huseyin Topaloglu and their joint students Matt Maxwell and Dr. Mateo Restrepo, to the weekly ORIE colloquium.
A lively teacher, Henderson has received several teaching awards at Cornell and has worked with more than a dozen Ph.D. students. His primary area of teaching is discrete event simulation, in which the behavior of systems subject to uncertainty - in ways that prevent their solution by manipulating formulas - is instead analyzed by generating repeated trials on a computer that 'tosses the dice' to replicate the random properties of the events being modelled (e.g. the arrival of a customer, demand for a product, a service outage, etc.). ORIE is a birthplace of discrete event simulation and its application to manufacturing systems. Henderson applies similar approaches to service systems, reflecting new teaching and research opportunities as the economy shifts.
In ORIE, curricular and research topics tend to be divided into probability and statistics (including simulation), optimization, and applications. Henderson's research work spans these divisions. While simulation work usually focuses on predicting the outcome of decisions made under uncertainty and most optimization techniques assume deterministic, non-random inputs, Henderson tackles problems in which uncertainty must be taken into account in determining the optimal decision. Often these problems are motivated by his work on real world applications. With Associate Professor Huseyin Topaloglu, Henderson was recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to study emergency services improvement.
"Reality is a great source of problems" to work on, he has said, and his theoretical work has been strongly influenced by such problems. For example, during his sojourn in New Zealand he started working on planning emergency services and optimizing the staffing of call-centers there. "The experience heavily influenced my career," he said, and "formed the basis for an NSF CAREER proposal when I returned to the USA. I have developed a relationship with an emergency services software developer" in New Zealand. "They share data with me and I share algorithms and ideas with them," he added. He has also worked with radiation oncology physicists on planning for cancer treatment and with Team New Zealand on simulating competing boat designs to determine the probabilities that each beats the other in various wind conditions -- thereby helping them defend the America's Cup in 2000 . "I have continued to work in these areas" he says, and this has motivated theoretical research on topics such as "structured simulation optimization", "low rank approximations in optimization," and "dependence structures."
For several years, Henderson has guided Master of Engineering projects for clients such as the Ithaca and Norwich, NY fire departments and Ornge Inc., the Ontario, Canada air ambulance service. In addition to his collaboration with Topaloglu he is working with Assistant Professor Dawn Woodard and Visiting Assistant Professor David Matteson, both statisticians in ORIE.
Henderson often commutes to work by bicycle, as do other ORIE faculty, but his commute entails biking down one steep hill and up another, since he lives on South Hill and works on East Hill. While he ends up at about the same altitude at each end of the trip, there is ample work to be done coping with the variation in between, much as is the case in his simulation activities.