ASOR has two annual awards, the ASOR Ren Potts Medal and the ASOR Rising Star Award. ASOR calls for nominations for these awards annually. Nominations by ASOR members are judged by a panel that is appointed by the ASOR National Committee.

Nominations for the ASOR Ren Potts Medal are presently open.Nominations are due by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 5pm on 29 October 2023.


ASOR Ren Potts Medal

The Ren Potts Medal of the Australian Society for Operations research is intended to recognise individuals who have made outstanding contributions to theory or practice of OR in Australia. It is a national award.

Past Recipients

2020

Prof John Hearne

2019

Prof Kate Smith-Miles

2017

Prof Peter Taylor

2016

Prof Leonid Churilov

2015

Prof Phil Howlett (UniSA),
Prof Erhan Kozan (QUT)

2009 Professor Santosh Kumar, Melbourne

2007 Professor Pra Murthy, University of Queensland
Professor Charles Pearce, University of Adelaide

2005 Professor Jerzy Filar, University of South Australia

1997 Dr Bruce Craven, University of Melbourne

History of the Award

At the ASOR National council meeting held on June 5, 1994, it was agreed that ASOR will establish a national prize for outstanding contribution in OR. The award may be presented for a major development in theory, application of OR in an industry or for any other reason considered worthy by the ASOR National Council. The award can be given to an individual or a group of persons, or to an organization. The award will be presented at the National conference. However, ASOR National Council members will not be considered for the award during their term as council members. The applicant must have significantly contributed to the growth/development of OR in theory or applications.

Current Award Criteria

The criteria for the award will be considered satisfied if the award nominee claim is judged by the committee as satisfying one or more of the following statements:

  • The application(s) of OR have resulted in substantial benefits for businesses, government, communities, science practice, and/or the environment.
  • The nominee has demonstrated successful and consistent promotion of OR in industry and/or the wider community.
  • The research findings developed by the nominee have been, or are likely to become, highly influential in informing and motivating ongoing research in OR and data sciences.
  • The work of the nominee has had a significant impact in the OR research and/or practitioner community internationally (supervision of a number of students for a higher degree by research in OR is one means of satisfying the requirements for the ASOR Ren Potts award).

The nominee must also have made a substantial contribution to ASOR during the past ten years, through activity such as participating in ASOR branch/chapter or national committees, being part of program and/or organising committees for ASOR's events or conferences, being a regular and active attendee at ASOR's events, or encouraging others to become ASOR members.

It is not possible to develop criteria common to all possible applications. However, each application will be reviewed by the evaluation committee and relevant additional information in terms of referees reports and management evaluations will be sought as appropriate. Theory or an application of OR which draws the national/international attention is considered worthy of the award. In all other cases, it is desirable to develop some quantitative measures which may be considered by the society as worthy of the ASOR award. For this purpose the following possible scenarios are suggested which may be reviewed by the council from time to time.

  1. For claim based on an application a measure of success can be:
    1. by resulting savings
    2. by impact on the performance of an organization
  2. For successful and consistent promotion of OR in Industry and/or Commerce:
    1. record of performance
    2. support of the relevant organization
  3. For claim based on the theory it may be measured in the usual way such as:
    1. publications in OR or related journals and their impact
    2. supervision which resulted in a research degree award on an OR topic, to at least five students who went on to successful careers
    3. an OR text book or a major software used in at least 5 educational/ commercial institutions.
    4. research monographs - which describes material from journals in a usable form by the wider community.
    5. some combination of the above deemed sufficient by the committee.

Nomination Format

A nomination for the Ren Potts Medal is a document of three to four pages in length which describes the case for the nomination and providing and/or citing evidence supporting this case.

It is preferable for a person to be nominated by others, however, a person may nominate themself. In the case where the nominee is not the author of the document(s) submitted to ASOR, ASOR will seek evidence to demonstrate that the nominee has agreed to be nominated. 

A nomination may be written by a person or team who is nominating the award candidate (in which case the document should be written in third person style), or by the candidate themselves (in which case the document should be written in first person style).

The selection panel will consider each case submitted, and may ask for additional information (from the nominee and/or nominators) in order to further support its decision.

All materals submitted to ASOR in relation to the Ren Potts Medal will remain confidential.

Citations for Previous Ren Potts Award Winners

John Hearne - recipient of the Ren Potts award in 2020

John Hearne's involvement and contributions to OR involve more than three decades. During this time he has made contributions to OR in several ways. These include supervision of research students, publications, and service to OR. Most of the research of the 21 PhD students he has successfully supervised to completion were in the area of OR and the majority of these are still active in this field. At RMIT, John Introduced Australia's first Masters program in Analytics. Current enrolments exceed 400 students. John has contributed to OR theory and applications around Sensitivity Analysis and Model Simplification,  OR and wildlife,  OR and water management, and OR and Wildfire. In the OR and wildlife area, key examples of his contributions are in developing translocation strategies for saving the black rhino, optimal strategies for converting cattle farms to wildlife ranches, strategies for making the consumptive use of wildlife viable in Australia, and methods for natural reserve planning and re-planning under climate change.
 

Kate Smith-Miles - recipient of the Ren Potts award in 2019

Over the last 25 years, Kate Smith-Miles has developed a reputation as one of Australia’s most exciting operations researchers, contributing new methods and tools, and applying them successfully to a broad range of industry and interdisciplinary problems. Highlighting just a few of her many research contributions, she has developed:

  • powerful new methods for solving combinatorial optimisation problems by exploiting chaotic dynamics and self-organisation;
  • novel formulations of practical industrial optimisation problems (in particular via seven ARC Linkage grants) so they can be solved using traditional methods, as well as developing new algorithms tailored to these industry problems;
  • new methods for tackling black-box optimisation problems, where analytical methods are not available, and experimental data is expensive, limited and contains many sources of uncertainty;
  • new ways of integrating machine learning methods with optimisation to support intelligent optimisation methods that are responsive to dynamic conditions;
  • a powerful new methodology known as Instance Space Analysis that offers a paradigm shift in the way algorithms, including optimisation algorithms, are tested to gain much needed insights into their strengths and weaknesses.

Beyond these contributions from an operations research perspective, she has also developed new mathematical approaches to tackle a range of other problems, including novel multilinear algebra and tensor analysis techniques achieving world-leading results in the field of image processing; mathematical modelling of stem-cell decision making; rare event detection in noisy time series; and many other topics. Kate has an extensive network of collaborators, both mathematical and in the broader academic community. She has developed a diverse toolkit of mathematical techniques from operations research and mathematical modelling, and the language and communication skills needed to collaborate with researchers and industry partners on problems arising in multiple different fields. This breadth has produced a tremendous portfolio of over 250 refereed scientific publications in total, many of which are in optimisation, highlighting the value of operations research, and mathematics more generally, in addressing significant industry and interdisciplinary challenges. She has supervised 25 PhD students to completion, and received over $12 million in competitive research funding. She has papers that have been published in top journals and which have made an impact on operations research and other disciplines. She has 23 papers that have attracted more than 100 citations each.

Peter Taylor - recipient of the Ren Potts award in 2017

Peter Taylor received a BSc(Hons) and a PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Adelaide in 1980 and 1987 respectively. In between, he spent time working for the Australian Public Service in Canberra. After periods at the Universities of Western Australia and Adelaide, he moved at the beginning of 2002 to the University of Melbourne, where he took up a position as the inaugural Professor of Operations Research. He was Head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics from 2005 until 2010.

Peter's research interests lie in the fields of stochastic modelling and applied probability, with particular emphasis on applications in telecommunications, biological modelling, healthcare, economics and disaster management. Recently he has become interested in the interaction of stochastic modelling with optimisation and optimal control under conditions of uncertainty and with blockchain technology. He is regularly invited to present plenary papers at international conferences. He has also acted on organising and program committees for many conferences.

Peter was the Secretary of the South Australian Chapter of ASOR in 1983 and 1984, President in 1985 and 1986, and a Committee Member in 1987 and 1988. In August 1985, while still a PhD student, he was the Secretary of the Seventh National Conference of ASOR, held in Adelaide. His greatest memory of this time was having the honour of hosting the plenary lecturer George Danzig for a large part of the conference. Peter has gone on to hold other significant leadership positions in the Australian mathematical science community: Chair of ANZIAM from February 2006 to February 2008, President of the Australian Mathematical Society from 2010 to 2012 and a member of the Australian Academy of Science's National Committee for the Mathematical Sciences from 2007 to 2015. In each of these roles he has advocated for operations research within the wider discipline of applied mathematics.

Peter is the Editor-in-Chief of Stochastic Models, and on the editorial boards of Queueing Systems, the Journal of Applied Probability and Advances in Applied Probability. He served on the Awards Committee of the Applied Probability Section of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS) from 2005-2007 and in 2016 was Co-Chair of the committee for the Nicholson Prize, awarded for the best student paper in operations research. In 2008, Peter became one of the five trustees of the Applied Probability Trust. This trust, which is based in Sheffield UK, is the body which publishes the Applied Probability journals plus `The Mathematical Scientist' and `Spectrum'. In 2013 he was awarded a Laureate Fellowship by the Australian Research Council, and in 2016 he became Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS).

Leonid Churilov - recipient of the Ren Potts award in 2016

At the time of this award in late 2016, Professor Leonid Churilov is the Head, Statistics and Decision Analysis, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Honorary Professor at Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health (The University of Melbourne) and Adjunct Professor, School of Science (Mathematical Sciences) at RMIT University.

Professor Churilov is an internationally recognized leader in the applications of Operations Research to health and clinical care systems. He has co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications in the area of modelling methodology and health care applications, including those published in the Journal of Operations Management, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and Nature Biotechnology; a research monograph on Value-Focused Process Engineering; and an edited volume on simulation modelling for management decision making. He is a recipient of numerous ARC and NHMRC grants, and a Victoria Fellowship from the State Government of Victoria. Professor Churilov has supervised numerous PhD students and taught OR, statistics, and decision modelling at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Professor Churilov is an Associate Editor of Operations Research for Health Care and an editorial board member for five other journals. He is a board member of ORAHS-EURO Working Group in Applications of Operations Research to Health Systems and a co-founding member of Cumberland.au - The Australian Health Care Modelling and Systems Design Collaboration.

The impact of modelling work by Professor Churilov is recognized by awards from ASOR, the Operations Research Society of Japan, and by the INFORMS Decision Analysis Society Practice Finalist Award. The results of his work featured in the international media, and were used in stroke public awareness campaigns by the Australian Stroke Foundation and in the USA by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Professor Churilov has contributed OR and statistical modelling expertise to the development of an implantable Strentrode device for a bionic spine.

Erhan Kozan - joint recipient of the Ren Potts award in 2015

Professor Erhan Kozan is adjunct professor of operations research in the School of Mathematical Science, Queensland University of Technology and honorary professor in the Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland, Australia.

He has had over 40 years industrial, managerial, teaching and research experience in the areas of operations research. He has acted as principal investigator for over 30 long-term industrial projects, and over 20 competitive national and international research grants since 1996 in the area of health, finance, mining, car and truck production, railways, seaports transportation, logistics and supply chain.

He is the author of a book, ten software packages and over 200 journal papers and conference papers. He is the editor/associate editor of seven journals and works as a referee of over 40 international journals. He has supervised over 35 postgraduate research students.

He is the former president of the Asia Pacific Industrial Engineering and Management Society (APIEMS) and the Australian Society for Operations Research. He is an expert in disciplinary research across decision science and scheduling theory. His current research focuses on the area of healthcare process optimisation, train scheduling and mine optimisation.

Phil Howlett - joint recipient of the Ren Potts award in 2015

Emeritus Professor Phil Howlett has made a sustained and outstanding contribution to both the theory and practice of Operations Research. He has published three books and more than 100 journal papers, won approximately $6m in competitive funding from the Australian Research Council and the Rail Cooperative Research Centre and trained 13 PhD students.

Howlett led the Scheduling and Control Group at the University of South Australia (1993- 2011), which invented and developed a suite of rail technology systems with Sydney-based company TTG Transportation Technology. For example, on-board driver advice system Energymiser helps trains to arrive on time while minimising energy use. It has been used around the world and has won industry awards in both Australia and the UK. With colleague Peter Pudney, Howlett designed driving strategies for solar-powered racing cars, leading to Aurora 101 winning the 1999 World Solar Challenge.

Howlett has also made substantial contributions to the development of stochastic optimal control policies for water storage in a system of connected dams, and to generation of synthetic rainfall data. More broadly he has worked on operator approximation, signal processing and inversion of matrix and operator pencils.

Howlett has given many years of service to the Australian Mathematical Society via ANZIAM and the Mathematics-in-Industry Study Group.