Companion of OR

The Companionship of Operational Research is awarded for sustained support and encouragement for the development of operational research or for those in influential positions who are in broad sympathy with the subject area. Such contributions might be through public or private activities.

Citation for Companion of OR 2018

Paul Harper

Paul Harper is Professor of Operational Research at Cardiff University and Deputy Head of its School of Mathematics. He has a wide range of research interests from data mining to stochastic OR and simulation modelling, very often with applications to healthcare.

He started his academic career as lecturer at the University of Southampton in 2001 after obtaining his MSc and PhD there. While at the University of Southampton he received the OR Society Goodeve medal for the paper “Improving the cost-effectiveness of chlamydia screening with targeted screening strategies” (with co-authors S.C. Brailsford, D. Evenden, and V. Harindra).

In 2007 Paul took a research chair position in Operational Research at Cardiff University and he took over the role of head of the OR group in 2009. Cardiff University had then a very large mathematics undergraduate student cohort but no postgraduate courses. Paul developed two new postgraduate OR courses with strong industry links specifically, which were launched in 2010 and have been popular ever since.

His research achievements are equally impressive as evidenced by the grants he has won including from EPSRC and NIHR, his 80+ publications, and his PhD students (20 completed and current).  But this is not just research that remains in papers; it is research with real impact. He has twice won the Cardiff University Innovation and Impact award (2011, 2015), and its award for Innovation and Enterprise in 2017; and in 2015 the team that he led alongside Jeff Griffiths won the prestigious Times Higher Education award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology' for their work that led to a reduction in stroke mortality of 60% in Cardiff hospitals. With a vision for sustained impact, he gained funding from the Aneurin Bevan Health Board to establish a Mathematical Modelling Unit (researchers-in-residence) within the Health Board, which is praised and aspired to by the health OR community; and he is the founding Director of the Centre.

His research influence has been recognised in his selection to be a REF2021 sub-panel member (assessment phase) for Mathematical Sciences, representing OR; his membership of the Review Committee of the Bond Review of Knowledge Exchange in the Mathematical Sciences; his chairing of the WIMCS OR and Statistics Cluster; and his elections as a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.

He has also contributed extensively to the OR community.  From 2005-2011 he chaired the OR Society “OR in Schools Taskforce” which produced various influential teaching resources for Decision Maths and OR. He chaired the Society’s Young OR conference in 2003, and its Annual Conference in 2008. He was a co-founder of MASHnet and the Cumberland Initiative, two important initiatives for promoting the use of modelling and OR in healthcare. He is founding Editor-in-Chief of the OR Society journal Health Systems; and he is a member of the Society’s Research Panel.

For the significance and impact of his research, his contributions to the visibility and influence of OR, and his support to the wider OR community, Paul is a worthy recipient of the Society’s Companion of OR award.

Paul Harper being awarded Companion of OR 2018 with John Hopes

Paul Harper (right) with OR Society President John Hopes

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