Faculty Snapshot: Jay Sethuraman
Tell us about your work.
I am a professor of operations research, a discipline that employs mathematical models to make better decisions. I am interested in finding good ways to allocate resources. For example: Are there better ways to manage emergency medical services? How should a limited number of pre-K spots be allocated to families in a neighborhood? Our goal is to help decision-makers understand what the trade-offs are, and help them understand the implications of various policies, accounting also for unintended consequences.
Tell us about a book that you have read recently and that you would recommend.
I read Stephen Sondheim's "Finishing the Hat" and "Look, I Made a Hat." The books include all of Sondheim's lyrics and commentary, which are fascinating. The books are also about the process of writing, about the creative process, and Sondheim's insights here are incredible. I think that anyone who does creative work will enjoy reading these books and will learn something from them.
What is a self-care practice that works for you?
My wife and I begin our day with a cup of hot coffee and the New York Times. We work our way through the puzzles (Crossword, Ken Ken, Two Not Touch). This routine has become both addictive and immersive, and the 30 minutes or so that we spend on this each day is immensely satisfying to me!
What advice might you have for a potential mentee about how to succeed in academia?
I believe that writing skills and presentation skills are not emphasized enough, especially in technical disciplines. If you become an academic, a good bit of your time will be spent on reading, writing, and presenting your work, so investing some time and effort in becoming good at these activities will be extremely useful.