Credentials: Professor and David H. Gustafson Chair of Industrial and Systems Engineering, UW-Madison College of Engineering
Position title: College of Engineering
Laura Albert works in the field of operations research, using mathematical models to improve decision-making, with a strong focus on public safety and planning. She applies data science to systems such as emergency medical services, cybersecurity, and election security. Her research focuses on managing risk, with the goals of creating healthier communities and more secure infrastructure.
According to Laura, industrial engineers have been using data science for a long time—well before it was called data science—to design efficient processes and systems. She enjoys exploring important problems for society that can be addressed through operations research and data science. For example, using causal analysis, she has demonstrated that diverting drug users to treatment programs is an efficient and effective investment of public resources, although this can cost time and effort in the short-term. She enjoys collaborating with police officers, paramedics, election officials, and others who work outside of her field, analyzing and interpreting data to support their operations.
Laura received a 2021 American Family Funding Initiative award to develop new decision tools that will cut costs and improve service in the insurance industry. This project will have applications to disaster response, call center optimization, and fire and emergency medical service vehicle dispatching.
“We can’t just be solving the same problems. What gets me out of bed in the morning is the new problems we haven’t really thought about yet.”