In conversation with our young researchers: Bikey Seranilla

16 December 2022

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Decision making under uncertainty

Decision making under uncertainty involves choosing actions based on often imperfect observations with unknown outcomes. Designers of automated decision support systems must then take into account the various sources of uncertainty while balancing the multiple objectives of the system. 

Is there any way to improve the quality of decision-making under conditions of uncertainty?

Bonn Kleiford ‘Bikey’ Seranilla is a PhD candidate at the Luxembourg Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LCL) of the University of Luxembourg. Under the supervision of Prof. Nils Löhndorf, his research focuses on decision making under uncertainty specifically for problems in operations and supply chain management.

Solving healthcare and humanitarian logistics problems

For many developing countries, COVID-19 vaccination roll-out programmes are not only slow but vaccination centres are also exposed to the risk of natural disasters, which may slow down vaccination progress even further. Policy-makers in developing countries therefore seek to implement strategies that hedge against distribution risk in order for vaccination campaigns to run smoothly and without delays.

As part of his research, Bikey worked with local governments in the Philippines to aide in their COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts. He proposed a stochastic-dynamic facility location model that allows policy-makers to choose vaccination facilities while accounting for possible facility failure. Stochastic dynamic models are models of decision making in simple perceptual and cognitive tasks.

I am currently employing mathematical optimisation techniques to solve problems relating to healthcare and humanitarian logistics. Specifically, I worked with local governments in the Philippines to aide in their COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts.

Bikey Seranilla

The model is a multi-stage stochastic variant of the classic facility location problem where disruption risk is modelled as a binary multivariate random process. To solve the problem, the researcher came up with a novel approximate dynamic programming algorithm which trains the shadow price of opening a flood-prone facility on historical data, thereby alleviating the need to fit a stochastic model. 

Icing on the cake: the solution and recommendation of his work was implemented in Bikey’s hometown of Cagayan de Oro City, a highly urbanised, flood-prone city in the Philippines.

Internationally recognised for his work on optimising vaccine distribution

Bikey won the Doing Good with Good OR prize for his project, titled “Optimizing Vaccine Distribution in Developing Countries under Natural Disaster Risk” at the annual INFORMS conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA in October 2022.

The annual Student Paper Competition identifies and honours outstanding projects in the field of operations research and management science conducted by a student or student group.

Bikey prevailed against finalists from Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia University and placed first.

A member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Supply Chain Management and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) Network

Bikey joined the University of Luxembourg from Nantes in France where he gained a Master of Science degree in Management and Optimisation of Supply Chains and Transport (MOST) from IMT Atlantique, formerly École des Mines de Nantes. Before that, Bonn studied Industrial Engineering at the Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.

Now with the Luxembourg Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management of the University of Luxembourg, Bickey praises the international exposure of his department as a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Supply Chain And Logistics Excellence (MIT SCALE) network.

The Luxembourg Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management of the University of Luxembourg is a hub for logistics & supply chain research and education in the heart of Europe.

The centre is a member of the MIT SCALE network. Collectively, the MIT Global SCALE Network spans to six centers of excellence on four continents.

Best-in-class research

The Luxembourg Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LCL) membership to the MIT SCALE Network is one of the main reasons why Bikey joined the University of Luxembourg.

The University of Luxembourg provides almost everything, if not all, a researcher would need. They tend to extend help as much as they can to accommodate the requests of the researcher. In addition, world-renowned researchers and scientists are housed in the University.

Bikey Seranilla

A cosmopolitan country

Bikey acknowledges that settling in Luxembourg was easy as he speaks French – one of the country’s three official languages. The researcher enjoys the very international and open aspect of the country.

I enjoy living in Luxembourg so much. I have met a lot of new friends easily since most of us are from foreign countries and we understand each other’s struggles. I would love to stay longer in Luxembourg.

Bikey Seranilla

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