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Professor Cynthia Chen named as interim chair of the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering

May 18, 2022

On May 17, 2022, Dean Nancy Allbritton shared the following announcement with the College of Engineering community:


I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Cynthia Chen as interim chair of the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering. This is a two-year term effective September 16, 2022 subject to the approval of the Provost.

Portrait of Cynthia Chen

Professor Cynthia Chen

Cynthia joined the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering in 2009. She is an internationally renowned scholar in transportation science and directs the THINK (Transportation-Human Interaction and Network Knowledge) lab at the UW. The work at THINK lab is at the intersection of human behavior and the system within which individuals and businesses operate. More specifically, THINK lab research unpacks complexities found at different scales of an urban system from micro-level individual behaviors, to meso-scale interactions formed as the result of individual behaviors, and to macro-scale system behaviors that propagate through a single network or multiple networks. Cynthia has published over 60 peer-reviewed publications in leading journals in transportation and systems engineering including Transportation Research Part A-F and Omega, as well as interdisciplinary journals such as PNAS. Her research has been supported by federal agencies such as NSF, NIH, APAR-E, NIST, USDOT, and FHWA as well as state and regional agencies. Most recently, Cynthia led a multi-institution team and won a $2M grant from NSF’s Leading Engineering for America’s Prosperity, Health, and Infrastructure (LEAP HI) program to design an adaptable society that can swiftly respond to external disruptions from natural hazards to pandemic. The knowledge and insights generated from her research has broad impacts on transportation systems operation, policy design, and urban planning. 

Cynthia’s dedication to leadership and service makes her exceptionally qualified to serve as interim chair of ISE. She represents CEE on the College Council, and chaired the 2021 cluster hire proposal review committee. At the national level, Cynthia served a two-year assignment from 2017-19 as the Program Director of Civil Infrastructure Systems, CMMI (Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation) division with the National Science Foundation. She serves as an associate director of TOMNET (Center for Teaching Old Models New Tricks), a USDOT-funded Tier 1 University Transportation Center led by ASU. She is an advisory council member for the Service Science Section of INFORMS, a vibrant community of data science, analytics, and operations research professionals. She is also an associate editor of two leading journals, Transportation Science and Service Science, and is on the editorial board of Sustainability Analytics and Modeling. 

I would like to recognize Linda Boyle’s service as ISE Chair. Since her appointment in 2014, Linda has grown the department through exceptional new faculty hires, increased enrollments and degrees, and research engagement across the UW. Her leadership has greatly benefitted the department and the College of Engineering, and has positioned ISE favorably for the future. 

I deeply appreciate Cynthia’s willingness to serve as leader of ISE during this interim period. Cynthia and Linda will work closely together through the summer to ensure a smooth transition. 

Please join me in welcoming Cynthia to ISE.   

Best regards,