Chief Data Officer Magazine Recognizes Five at Foisie Business School

Faculty members are applying data to make an impact on industry and society
February 26, 2021

Data is critical and ever present throughout 21st century life, and it is being leveraged and explored in myriad ways at WPI’s Robert A. Foisie Business School, including improving healthcare workflows, quality, access, and costs; incorporating lean training across organizational structures; and enhancing the quality of life of vulnerable and marginalized individuals and populations. These uses of data and associated algorithms are the focus of the school’s recently launched MS in Business Analytics as well as Business Analytics options in its BS in Business.

For this work, several faculty members have recently received much-deserved recognition.

Chief Data Officer Magazine recently named five Foisie faculty members to its inaugural 2021 List of Leading Academic Data Leaders: Diane M. Strong, Department Head and Professor of Information Technology and Data Science; Sharon Johnson, Professor of Operations and Industrial Engineering; Nima Kordzadeh, Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Data Science; Purvi Shah, Associate Professor of Marketing; and Andrew C. Trapp, Associate Professor of Operations and Industrial Engineering.


Debora Jackson

CDO Magazine is led by the MIT Sloan School of Management, the International Society of Chief Data Officers, and ComSpark. The publication’s Data Leaders list features nearly 200 academic professionals from around the world, identified via an exhaustive search.

The Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson, the new dean of the Foisie Business School, doesn’t temper her enthusiasm or pride for the honor.

“These five individuals are, taking data and using it in an applied way that is making an impact on industry and society,” she says. “That is significant, and that is what the business school wants to do across the board.”

She lauded the faculty members for their dedicated work:

Strong, who earned a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University, researches the most effective ways that businesses, nonprofits and healthcare organizations can use computing technologies such as database systems, electronic health records systems, and mobile apps. Her National Science Foundation–funded research has analyzed how electronic health records systems can improve healthcare quality and access while reducing costs. She is also working with a team to develop a diabetes support app.

Johnson, with a PhD from Cornell University, is a founding member of the Healthcare Delivery Institute. She researches ways that lean improvement methods can assist decision making and improve workflow and care delivery in healthcare. She also evaluates Lean training methods across healthcare organizations, and recently examined electronic health record and personal health record implementations.

Kordzadeh, who holds a PhD in business administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio, focuses his research on health informatics, social media, information privacy, and business intelligence and analytics. His recent studies focus on the complexities of developing and using responsible AI and analytics technologies that treat people fairly.

Shah, with a PhD in marketing from Texas Tech University, boasts diverse industry experience in marketing and brand management. She researches brand and product deletion, expiration dates and product disposal. Also skilled in training emerging managers, she strives to understand and explain challenging marketing phenomena that have not yet received much research attention.

Trapp holds a PhD in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. He works to apply open-source software and analytical technologies—including prescriptive and predictive analytics and algorithms—to allocate scarce resources and improve systems serving vulnerable populations. These include asylum seekers, refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and those in foster care.

All told, Jackson notes of the recognition: “The Business School has 25 faculty members—we’re small. However, through CDO Magazine, one-fifth of our faculty members are being recognized for their work.”

The CDO Magazine recognition also brings “credence and credibility” to WPI’s dedication to harnessing and managing data and using it to drive decision making and improve lives, Jackson says. A strongly established, recognized and celebrated STEM institution, “WPI also means business,” she adds. “I am so proud of all the faculty at Foisie Business School. We’re quietly going about our work, and we’re doing amazing things worthy of such recognition.”

-Taryn Plumb