OR65 Conference Highlights



John Medhurst, Director at Larrainzar Consulting Solutions Ltd


The field of Operations Research (OR) is an ever-evolving discipline that plays a central role in tackling complex real-world problems.

This year, the OR Society proudly hosted its flagship annual conference, OR65, in collaboration with the University of Bath’s School of Management. This three-day conference brought together a diverse gathering of hundreds of academic and professional operational researchers and analysts, all eager to share the latest developments in OR and explore its real-world applications.

Celebrating 75 Years of OR Excellence

The conference kicked off with a warm welcome from Conference Co-Chairs Christos Vasilakis, Melih Celik and Mithu Norris and the University’s Dean, Stephen Brammer. However, the real highlight was the announcement by the OR Society’s President, Gilbert Owusu that the society is commemorating its 75th anniversary and has launched a new campaign ‘This is OR,’ aimed at increasing awareness of OR and its profound impact across various industries.

With the growing demand for individuals skilled in data analytics, mathematics, and computer science, the campaign will highlight the diverse and attractive career opportunities within the OR field. It targets students, graduates and postgraduates in business

management and sciences, as well as professionals already working in data science and analytics. It will also highlight that the OR Society can provide a huge range of resources, courses, scholarships, publications, and networking opportunities to support those working in this exciting field.

A heartfelt thank you was also extended to the conference sponsors, without whom such an event would not have been possible. Sponsors and exhibitors included Datasparq, the School of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh, the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC), Smith Institute, Simul8, Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory), the School of Management at the University of Bath, Sirius Analysis, The JGA Group, Jumping Rivers, Government Operational Research Service (GORS) and The Royal Statistical Society.

World-Class Speakers

OR65 featured an impressive lineup of plenary speakers, each contributing their unique insights and expertise to the conference.

Prof. Dr. Erik Demeulemeester, a distinguished researcher in project scheduling and healthcare planning, took the stage to discuss ‘Proactive and Reactive Resource-Constrained Project Scheduling’. His presentation focused on proactive and reactive resource-constrained project scheduling—a challenging area where project activities’ durations are marked by uncertainty. Prof. Demeulemeester explored the intricacies of proactive scheduling, which aims to construct robust baseline schedules capable of withstanding potential disruptions during project execution. He also delved into reactive scheduling procedures designed to mend schedules when unexpected events change the original plan. He provided insights into cutting-edge approaches in proactive and reactive project scheduling, and valuable glimpses into the future of this critical field.

We also heard from Prof. Maria Besiou, Dean of Research and Professor of Humanitarian Logistics at Kühne Logistics University on the fascinating ‘Impact of OR in Humanitarian Operations.’ She discussed the complex challenge of using OR research to plan for humanitarian disasters that are unknown and simply can’t be planned. One of the key challenges in humanitarian OR is demonstrating impact. Therefore, Prof. Besiou gave a comprehensive review of the literature that currently exists on measuring research and practice impact, offering guidance on analysing papers in humanitarian operations and practitioner conferences. Her presentation shed light on the challenges and opportunities in achieving broader impact and strengthening the connection between research and practice.

On the final day, we heard from Mauricio G. C. Resende, Ph.D. on ‘Bridging Academia and Industry.’ Mauricio is an Affiliate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Washington, and he shared insights from his remarkable four-decade-long career journey, and how he has personally bridged the gap between academia and industry. Mauricio is most renowned for his work in metaheuristics and algorithm engineering, making significant contributions to optimisation. He shared his experiences collaborating with industry giants such as Fairchild Semiconductors, AT&T Bell Labs, and Amazon Research. He also highlighted the inception of GRASP and BRKGA, two pivotal algorithms that were rooted in these collaborations. His inspiring story highlighted the dynamic nature of the OR field, emphasising the importance of maintaining connections with academia while working successfully in industry.



A Broad Range of Streams

OR65 featured an impressive array of lectures and workshops, covering a wide range of topics, including AI and Machine Learning, Sustainable Development Goals, Behavioural OR, Forecasting Solutions, OR in Health and Social Care, OR in Education, Hybrid Modelling and Simulation, and OR in Achieving Net Zero. One of the most captivating streams was the “Making an Impact” stream, where attendees learned about real-life applications of OR and new techniques and tools that can help them ‘Make an Impact’ in their work.

In one popular session from ‘Making an Impact’ that formed part of the anniversary celebrations, a selection of eminent speakers, including a past President of the Society, a former Chief Analyst at Dstl and a former Vice-President of the Society discussed the evolution of OR in Practice over the past 75 years. This session was the practical counterpart of an earlier session celebrating 75 years of the Journal of the Operational Research Society. With such a breadth of topics, there was something for everyone.

President’s Medal Winner

A highlight of the conference was the President’s Medal competition, an annual award that recognises the most outstanding practical application of operational research (OR). This year, three finalists presented their work to a panel of judges and the audience.

Adam Mackenzie-Jones, the Net Zero Systems lead within the Net Zero Strategy Directorate at the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, emerged as the winner of the President’s  Medal 2023. He was honoured for creating a groundbreaking Net Zero Systems tool for use in government departments. Tackling the complex challenge of achieving Net Zero emissions targets requires collaborative efforts across various government departments. To facilitate this, Adam and his team collaborated with various government bodies to design and create an innovative interactive visualisation tool called the Net Zero Systems Tool (NZST). This tool empowers decision makers to understand and navigate the interconnected and systemic nature of this landscape, enabling effective risk management, identification of opportunities, and driving further collaboration across government.

Gilbert Owusu praised the innovative spirit of operational research and its potential to drive positive change. Seb Hargreaves, Executive Director of The OR Society also commended Adam, and his team for their exceptional contribution to the field of operational research.

Networking Opportunities

Beyond learning and knowledge sharing, OR65 of course provided plenty of opportunities for members to socialise and network. Attendees explored the historic sites of Bath enjoying bus and walking tours, as well as a drinks reception at the university’s stunning new School of Management and indulged in networking over drinks and food in the university’s refectory. The gala dinner held at Bath’s famous Pump Rooms, adding a touch of elegance to the networking experience.


OR65 was an unequivocal success, offering a glimpse into the vibrant and evolving world of Operations Research. The conference provided a platform for the OR community to connect, share knowledge, and address some of the world’s most intricate challenges. With the OR Society’s commitment to nurturing talent and innovation in OR, the future looks promising for individuals eager to embark on a journey in this ever expanding field. OR65’s distinguished speakers offered valuable insights into cutting-edge research and impactful application that continue to shape the world through the lens of Operational Research. As The OR Society commemorates its 75th anniversary, the enduring legacy of OR’s contributions to society stands stronger than ever. Next year, OR enthusiasts will gather at the University of Bangor, eagerly anticipating another year of inspiring insights and collaboration.