At the intersection of mathematics and business
May 8, 2023
Graduate research assistant
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
Bachelor of Science, Industrial Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology
“Remember, failure should not be feared. Rather, it’s an essential step in the learning process. If we never make mistakes, we might never really understand how far we can push ourselves. To this end, I urge students to take on difficult challenges.”
What is your research focus, and why did you choose this area of study?
As a master’s student majoring in mathematics, I’m currently conducting interdisciplinary research on the intersection of machine learning and operations management. My research focuses on the applications of machine learning in service systems; particularly how textual data can be used to accurately predict customer wait times in service companies, or to improve scheduling appointments for telemedicine patients in health-care systems.
My work is driven my desire to enhance decision-making. My interest in this area stems from my curiosity about how machine learning can effectively enable service systems—and ultimately people—to make better decisions. What inspires me about this work is the potential consequences of my research on real-world problems facing both customers and business owners. In particular, our health and service systems.
Why is your research relevant in today’s day and age?
Using statistical approaches to devise methods to improve performance through enhancing decision-making has potential for every industry. For instance, customer service is one of several industries moving online with the rise of digitization. In this space consumers achieving prompt and effective service depends heavily on accurate wait times to achieve consumer’s expectations. My research presents an innovative strategy, which will enhance wait time estimates by combining deep learning and text mining approaches to help boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. The findings could be applied for organizations in a range of sectors, including health care and e-commerce.
What’s the best advice you have for other students?
Throughout my time in higher education, I’ve become aware of the value of effort and a drive to learn. No matter your academic standing, my best advice to other students is to never stop exploring new opportunities and taking chances.
Remember, failure should not be feared. It’s an essential step in the learning process. If we never make mistakes, we might never really understand how far we can push ourselves. To this end, I urge students to take on difficult challenges. Also, seek out a mentor or a supportive group to help you. Having a mentor with expertise in your industry can help you advance your academic and professional goals through priceless counsel and connection.
I also want to stress the value of curiosity and passion. The decision to pursue higher education can be difficult and time-consuming, so it’s crucial to pick a subject that you’re passionate about. When you’re interested in what you’re learning, the task becomes less of a chore and more of an enjoyable exploration of new ideas.
“Having benefited from mentorship myself, I’m committed to effectively training students and hope to positively influence the next generation.”
Who is your mentor and how have they influenced you?
My current mentors, Dr. Amir Ardestani-Jaafari and Dr. Javad Tavakoli, have profoundly shaped my research focus and direction. Under their guidance, I’ve been able to refine my research interests and develop a deeper understanding of the applications of machine learning in operations management. Both men have challenged me to think critically and encouraged me to explore new approaches in my research.
Beyond guiding technical aspects of my research, they have also been supportive mentors in terms of my personal and professional growth. Both professors have been helped me navigate the challenges of research and grow as a researcher. Their expertise, guidance and support have not only helped me achieve my research goals but also inspired me to excellence in my academic and professional pursuits.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
Research is a driving passion for me. Going hand-in-hand with that is my passion for teaching. Having benefited from mentorship myself, I’m committed to effectively training students and hope to positively influence the next generation. My next step is pursuing a doctorate in business with Cornell University, where I hope to achieve my goal of becoming a professor who conducts meaningful research to help improve decision-making.