Areas of Focus
Dipayan Banerjee, a rising second-year Ph.D. student studying operations research in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has been awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Banerjee, who has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and management sciences from Northwestern University, is co-advised by UPS Professor of Logistics Alan Erera and Leo and Louise Benatar Early Career Professor and Associate Professor Alejandro Toriello.
“Dipayan is a rising researcher in logistics, and the NSF fellowship is yet another accolade testifying to his promising young career,” said Toriello. “I look forward to working with him in the coming years in last-mile logistics and e-commerce, an exciting area where Dipayan has the potential to make a significant contribution.”
Banerjee is studying the tactical design of last-mile delivery systems, which are a challenging supply chain problem. The last mile in a supply chain represents the transport of goods being delivered, for example, from a local warehouse to a home or business. Specifically, Banerjee is looking at issues related to designing delivery fleets and vehicle dispatch policies for cost-effective last-mile delivery within a particular region.
“You can pack a big truck full of bulk quantities of goods and efficiently transport them across the U.S.,” Banerjee explained. “But getting the goods to a consumer’s home is less efficient, since individual items are being delivered. You could also see the importance of last-mile logistics during the Covid-19 lockdowns, when so many people were ordering and receiving their groceries at home.”
Beyond the demand dictated by the pandemic, Banerjee noted that e-commerce supply chains have become fundamental to the average person’s life, and hundreds of companies ranging from bakeries to florists are responding accordingly.
“It’s a really exciting time to be studying transportation and logistics systems,” he says. “There are many fascinating new challenges being faced in the last mile as companies seek to deliver more and more goods on increasingly tighter deadlines. These include issue of accessibility and environmental sustainability. We also have so much data and advanced computing power at our disposal that wasn’t available five or 10 years ago. I’m excited about the opportunity to develop new operations research approaches to solving these problems.”
Established in 1951, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship is the oldest fellowship of its kind. The fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.