ISyE Seminar Series: Chrysanthos E. Gounaris

"Decision-making Across Scales: From Supply Chains to Materials Nanostructure"

Presentation by Professor Chrysanthos E. Gounaris
Department of Chemical Engineering and Center for Advanced Process Decision-making, Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, September 30
3:30-5:00 PM CST — Reception and Seminar



Modern chemical engineering contemplates topics across a wide span of scales, ranging from the need to understand and harness the chemistry that governs the performance of advanced compounds and materials, to designing industrial equipment and facilities of all kinds, to managing operations and defining corporate strategy at the enterprise level.

In this talk, we discuss our work in employing mathematical optimization approaches to tackle decision-making in the context of multiple such scales. We start with some settings arising in the supply chain of the chemical industry, for which we develop custom-built mathematical optimization models and solution algorithms to design optimal plans for daily logistics operations. Turning our focus to project scheduling, we show how the management of a pharmaceutical company can optimally allocate R&D resources towards progressing their portfolio of drugs under development.

We continue by discussing the design of process flowsheets, and present novel methods to ensure robustness of optimal process designs against uncertainties in the underlying physicochemical properties at play. Such methods have been incorporated in our tool PyROS, a Python-based implementation for robust optimization of highly nonlinear models. We conclude the talk by presenting MatOpt, our recently developed crystalline materials framework, which efficiently explores the combinatorics of how atoms may arrange themselves on lattices and identifies the specific microstructure that induces desirable properties in various materials related to energy applications.



Chrysanthos Gounaris is currently Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He received a Dipl. in Chemical Engineering and an M.Sc. in Automation Systems from the National Technical University of Athens, as well as a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University. After graduation, Chrysanthos worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. He returned to academia to pursue post-doctoral research at Princeton, before joining the Department of Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 2013. His research interests lie in the development of theory and quantitative methodologies for decision-making, with emphasis in supply chain optimization and distribution logistics, production planning and scheduling, project management, process design under uncertainty, microporous and nanostructured materials design, as well as methods and tools for robust optimization and global optimization. Chrysanthos actively participates in the Center of Advanced Process Decision-making consortium, where he now directs its Enterprise-Wide Optimization special interest group. He serves as principal investigator for a number of academia-industry research collaborations, as well as participates in the leadership team of DOE’s Institute for the Design of Advanced Energy Systems (IDAES). Recent recognitions for Chrysanthos include his being named a “2020 MSDE Emerging Investigator”, his induction in the “2019 I&ECR Class of Influential Researchers”, the Glover-Klingman Prize, the CIT Dean’s Early Career Fellowship, and the Kun Li Award for Teaching Excellence. Chrysanthos has been an active member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, having served as Programming Chair for its Computing and Systems Technology Area 10C, while he is currently serving as co-Chair of the upcoming inaugural conference of the new Advanced Manufacturing & Processing Society, AMPc-2021. Chrysanthos is also a member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, being active in its Transportation Science & Logistics society.

ISyE Grad Social Event

We are having our semesterly Grad Social Event on Friday, October 2, from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. over Zoom this year. We will start by getting familiar with each other, then eat our lunches together, and finally play some online games or if you just want to chill we'll have a breakout room for that too. So, come hang out with us! 

Please RSVP so we can get a headcount for the number of breakout rooms we'll need.

Curiosity Drives Progress Lecture Series: Impacting Communities

This event features talks by CSE distinguished professors Saif Benjaafar (Industrial and Systems Engineering), Lucy Fortson (Physics and Astronomy), and Ellad Tadmor (Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics)

Thursday, October 8, 2020
6:30–8 p.m. – 
Lecture, followed by Q&A session
This event will be held as a webinar via Zoom

Register today!

Instructions to join the Zoom webinar will be included in the registration confirmation email. If you have questions, please contact

About the talks

“From Digital Marketplaces to Gig Work: The Promise and Perils of the On-Demand Economy”

A portrait of Saif Benjaafar.

By Saif Benjaafar, Department Head and Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering 

Life under COVID-19 has given us a glimpse of a perhaps not too distant future where products and services are delivered to our doorsteps anywhere any time and on an on-demand basis. In this talk, Dr. Benjaafar will discuss the technological and business drivers (from 3D printing to crowdsourcing) behind the transition to an on-demand economy and what it means to the future of work, commerce, and cities.

“To the Zooniverse and Beyond: How Crowdsourcing Science is Solving Big Data Problems for UMN Researchers"

Lucy Fortson

By Lucy Fortson, Associate Department Head and Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy

What do lions, galaxies, cell nuclei and notes taken by the Justices of the United States Supreme Court have in common? Each of these is a topic of intense research by faculty at the University of Minnesota—and each suffers from a similar problem: too much complex data for researchers to properly analyze. You might think that computers should be able to tackle these problems, but in fact, pattern matching (a hallmark of analyzing complex data) is exactly where computers still lag behind even a human child.

So how can researchers make any progress in problems where human visual processing of millions of images is required? By turning to the general public and asking for their help. This talk will describe the Zooniverse project, and will take you on a tour of the engaging projects in the Zooniverse—from the lions in the Serengeti to galaxies in the furthest reaches of time and space. Along the way, Professor Fortson will describe the issues that researchers now face with “Big Data,” what crowdsourcing is, and how combining human intelligence with artificial intelligence is revolutionizing how science is being done.

“Can Truth Save Democracy? We’re Trying in Science Court”

Ellad Tadmor

By Ellad B. Tadmor, Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

Some say we live in a "post truth" world, but there is no such thing. Humans would not have survived as a species if they were not able to rationally assess the world about them and make sensible decisions. In “Science Court” we are trying to apply this common sense thinking to tackle controversial societal issues that divide us as Americans. The students participating in this Honors Seminar pick the topic, spend a semester researching the facts, and argue the pros and cons in a mock trial in front of a diverse jury of citizens.

Science Court draws on the traditions of the U.S. jury system, but adapts the process based on understanding from scientific research on how people reason and collaborate to maximize the likelihood of reaching consensus. The hope is that by spreading this model to other universities, Science Court will help to reduce polarization and help our democracy function in a time when trust in all institutions (including democracy itself) are at historical lows.

Read more about his class in Inventing Tomorrow, Winter 2020.