Xiuli (Zack) Chao appointed Ralph L. Disney Collegiate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering
Professorship named after influential former University of Michigan professor.
Xiuli (Zack) Chao, a principal research scientist in Amazon’s Supply Chain Optimization Technologies (SCOT) organization and an industrial and operations engineering professor at the University of Michigan (UM), has been appointed the Ralph L. Disney Collegiate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at UM.
In a press release marking the appointment, the school noted that “a Collegiate Research Professorship is awarded to a professor who demonstrates exceptional scholarly achievement and makes an impact on advancing knowledge in their academic field of study.”
Chao, who is the co-author of two books — “Operations Scheduling with Applications in Manufacturing and Services” and “Queueing Networks: Customers, Signals, and Product Form Solutions” — said he feels “ deeply humbled to be selected”.
Disney, for whom the professorship is named, taught at UM from 1962 to 1979, and was Professor Emeritus of Industrial Engineering at Texas A & M University at the time of his death in 2014. Chao said he is indebted to the seminal research Disney did in his field.
“Ralph Disney has been a major figure in operations research; his work on queueing networks has been very influential on me. He is one of the founders of the Applied Probability Society of INFORMS and he graduated many outstanding students.”
Chao said his work at Amazon complements his research at Michigan.
“All of the work I have been doing within academia has come to life at Amazon,” he observed. “For example, queuing networks is closely related to backlog management in Amazon’s supply chain. I have worked on that for many years, and so did Ralph Disney. Amazon’s inbound appointment scheduling and global sourcing multi-echelon inventory management are some of the other projects I have been involved in that are directly related to my academic research. Amazon’s challenges are harder and more complex than the ones we worked on in academia because there are a lot of practical considerations we in academic research often would ignore. I’m really enjoying that challenge and am very proud to be part of Amazon.”