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MIT student blogger Mitra L. '07

NSUW Coffee Chat by Mitra L. '07

Casual conversations with professors

Today I attended the Network of Sloan Undergraduate Women (NSUW) event Coffee Chat with Professors. NSUW is a sponsored group of the Sloan Undergraduate Management Association (SUMA), which is for students interested (not necessarily majoring) in Course 15: Management Science.

Attending professors: Reena Aggarwal, Jennifer Altamuro, Katherine Kellog, Georgia Perakis, Kimberly Thompson

Here’s a little bit about each of the 5 professors:


Professor Aggarwal specializes in international stock markets, microstructure of stock exchanges and initial public offerings. Her current research focuses on mutual fund investments in international markets, corporate governance, and public offerings. She teaches financial management and a course on Investment Banking and Going Public. She has been named among “Outstanding Faculty” in the Business Week Guide to the Best Business Schools.

Dr. Aggarwal’s expertise is in the areas of initial public offerings, international stock markets, corporate governance, and market microstructure. She has authored numerous articles on initial public offerings in the U.S., Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico and Chile; emerging markets of Asia and Latin America; and functioning of stock exchanges. Her papers have been published in the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Journal of Banking and Finance, Financial Management, Journal of Applied Corporate Finance and Journal of Portfolio Management.

As a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil and Chile Dr. Aggarwal examined stock markets and privatization programs. She has worked on major consulting projects sponsored by Credit Suisse, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, NERA Economic Research, the World Bank, IMF, IFC, IDB, The Nasdaq Stock Market, United Nations, U.S. Small Business Administration, and U.S. AID among others.


Kate Kellogg is an Assistant Professor of Organization Studies at MIT’s Sloan School of Management where she earned her Ph.D. and was a Research Assistant with the MIT Workplace Center. Her research examines the micro-foundations of institutional change. In order to change practices that comprise their work and family lives, organization members need to modify the collective understandings’ institutions– that guide their interactions with other members. But, they often face resistance from members interested in preserving the status quo. Kate studies how the contested micro-level interactions between challengers and defenders around everyday work practices shape new macro-level institutions of work and family in society. Before coming to MIT, Kate spent six years in consulting at Bain & Company and Health Advances, and several years as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Baltimore/Washington Region American Red Cross.

I talked to Professor Kellogg about the differences between academia (both being a graduate student and a professor, in this case) and industry, since she worked for several years as a consultant. We also compared her work to an ethnographer’s, since she sometimes joins (sort of) companies for months at a time to understand how they function. Her research seems like a mix of business and anthropology.


Georgia Perakis’ research interests include applications of optimization and equilibrium in revenue management, dynamic pricing, the study of auctions and competitive supply chain management. Furthermore, her research tries to understand traffic patterns in dynamic settings. She has received the CAREER / PECASE award, the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award for excellence in teaching, the Sloan Career Development Chair. Perakis has been an Associate Editor for the journal Management Science and for the journal of Naval Logistics Research, an Area Editor in the area of Supply Chain Management and Services for the journal Networks and Spatial Economics and the editor in Chief for the journal of Pricing and Revenue Management. Perakis was a member of the Informs Council and the chair of the Pricing and Revenue Management Section of the Informs society.


Professor Thompson’s research interests and teaching focus on the issues related to developing and applying quantitative methods for risk assessment and risk management, and consideration of the public policy implications associated with including uncertainty and variability in risk characterization. Drawing on a diverse background, she seeks to effectively integrate technological, social, political, legal, and economic issues into risk analyses that inform public policy and improve decision making in what she calls the “Age of Risk Management.”

She created and directs the Kids Risk Project, which aims to empower kids, parents, policy makers, and others to make better decisions when managing children’s risks. This effort applies risk and decision analysis tools to highlight the value of informed decisions and it will ultimately lead to the development of appropriate risk models for children. This work builds on Professor Thompson’s long-standing interest in the issues related to variability in risk for sensitive sub-populations, particularly children, and the potential risk tradeoffs associated with policies designed to protect them. The work includes research on a range of children’s risks including injury, environmental, medical, and product-related risks, as well as perception of children’s risks and the portrayal of risky behaviors in popular entertainment media. In January 2003, Professor Thompson co-founded the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston. At the first Kids Risk Symposium, Dr. Thompson released the first study of the Fortune 1000 companies aimed at assessing their commitments to children.

Professor Thompson continues to explore the implications of using different analytical tools for structuring information, a theme that is central to her teaching. She directs Probabilistic Risk Analysis: Assessment, Management, and Communication, a Professional Education course that meets each fall at the Harvard School of Public Health. As the use of quantitative analysis continues to grow, Professor Thompson looks at how the type of analysis used (e.g., cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-benefit analysis, decision analysis, value-of-information analysis, risk-only or health-only analysis, etc.) influences and determines the policy outcome. Professor Thompson’s work currently focuses heavily on system dynamics and dynamic modeling, particularly in the context of modeling policies for polio risk management after the success of global eradication.

Building on her broad training, Professor Thompson also focuses on the characterization of information and communication of risks. She developed a guide to help consumers take charge of health information that appears in her book called Risk in Perspective: Insight and Humor in the Age of Risk Management. She uses this book as a text in her course ID285: Environmental Health Risk: Concepts and Cases, which she offers in the HSPH Wintersession. Recognized as a Society for Risk Analysis/Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer and popular keynote speaker, she speaks widely about life in the Age of Risk Management. Professor Thompson continues to develop her interests in improving risk communication to help consumers manage their risks.

I talked to Professor Thompson for quite a bit of time about her research and its applications. Turns out she was an undergrad here, and received both her BS and MS from MIT in Course 10: Chemical Engineering! It sounded like she focused her research on decision-making and risk-analysis, though when we chatted, it was mostly about health economics. This could be because I have a test on Monday in 14.21J

JENNIFER ALTAMURO — I am sorry, I cannot find her biography or photograph online! Another undergrad and I had a nice talk with Professors Altamuro and Kellogg, but no photos….

One response to “NSUW Coffee Chat”

  1. Sam says:

    Professor Thompson really shows what you can do with a degree in Course 10 from MIT–appear in Mitra’s Blog! Woohoo! I’ll have to start telling prefrosh and undecided frosh that when they inevitably ask me what exactly a Course 10 degree is good for. Good luck on your test… don’t let it rip you a new one.