UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Smeal College of Business Center for Supply Chain Research (CSCR) recently announced that Hui Zhao and Brent Moritz have become the center’s new co-directors of research, succeeding Aydin Alptekinoglu.
Zhao, who has extensive teaching and research experience in supply chain, logistics, and analytics, is currently Professor of Supply Chain Management and Charles and Lilian Binder Faculty. His research focuses on improving supply chain effectiveness and efficiency through the application of analytics to align incentives and induce collaboration.
Moritz spent a decade working in manufacturing operations and supply chain management – including international experiences in Mexico, England and Germany – before joining academia. With an impressive resume of experiences in global industry and academic roles, Moritz said he is ready and excited to once again connect with practitioners who are on the front lines of challenging issues.
“Working with the center is a way to stay engaged in the practice,” Moritz said.
“I look forward to helping make connections — hearing companies talk about the challenges they face and connecting them with researchers who can help solve those challenges,” Moritz added. “I can help spread the news about some of the great research already happening at Smeal.
Zhao also has experiences outside of academia, as his work has been well recognized by industry and government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She was invited by the FDA to serve on an expert panel on US drug shortages and traveled to the Department of Health and Human Services several times to give presentations. As the new co-director, Zhao said she seeks to apply her experiences to help strengthen the center’s research portfolio and provide relevant solutions to current supply chain issues.
“I believe that industry and academia can mutually benefit from each other. While many of our faculty are conducting research that I believe could directly benefit industry, industry could nurture academia with current and future challenges that can turn into great research topics,” said she explained. “CSCR is the ideal platform for such collaboration and I hope to help strengthen this mutually beneficial relationship with this position of co-director of research.”
Sharing the position of director of CSCR’s research program is a new way forward – and one in which the center benefits from the expertise of two prominent Smeal faculty members. The addition of a co-leadership role promises to create new initiatives and plans.
Zhao said she was excited about her new role at the center, citing CSCR as one of the oldest and most reputable supply chain knowledge banks in the country. She believes that research analysis coupled with strategic partnerships with industry will become another strength that the center is able to offer to other corporate sponsors, faculty and students as well.
“I hope to advocate for our faculty’s research to benefit our sponsors and to educate current (and potential) industry sponsors for potential collaboration,” she said. “We will also seek to publish in reputable industry-focused journals and magazines based on center or faculty research – and may explore the possibility of establishing a case library.”
Moritz said he also wants to focus more on bridge research and academia in supply chain. It hopes to disseminate short summaries of recent academic research that may be of interest to the center’s partners, such as emerging research on environmental responsibility and new technologies that may impact business.
“I want to listen to our practitioner partners and help connect with our faculty,” Moritz said. “A friend of mine at a large company indicated that he has spent decades working on outsourcing and the past two years under COVID leading efforts to relocate critical materials. How, when and why this can be accomplished are great questions that our faculty should help answer.”
With research being essential in all areas, including the supply chain, the new role of faculty members fulfills a vital function. Industry and government agencies have day-to-day operations and goals, but may not have the research capacity that universities are interested in and equipped to conduct, Zhao said. This research is essential for long-term innovation in supply chain models, identifying problem-driving forces, and applying new technologies to current and future challenges.
“One of the benefits of academic research is that we can work on interesting problems that have never been solved before. The best and most interesting research solves problems that impact practice or society as a whole,” Moritz noted.
The expertise and experience of both faculty members will be instrumental in realizing the center’s vision for research collaborations and solving lingering supply chain issues.