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Ilias Kotsireas, a Laurier professor of Physics and Computer Science, is co-organizing an international conference on the Dynamics of Disasters, to be held next month in Greece.

The first international conference on Dynamics of Disasters was organized October 5-7, 2006 in Athens, Greece, by Panos M. Pardalos, a math and computer science expert with a particular interest in optimization. The second international conference will be held June 29-July 2, 2015 in Kalamata Greece and organized by Panos M. Pardalos, Anna Nagurney, and Ilias Kotsireas.

This year’s conference will focus on the different forms of disasters and various methodologies for the prevention and response to these events. Participants at the conference will explore ideas in disaster communications and social networks, health-care issues, disaster team coordination, humanitarian logistics, infrastructure protection, financial funding, spread of contagion, and decision-making under risk.

Kotsireas will serve as one of the three general chairs of the conference, along with Pardalos of Gainesville, Florida and Nagurney of Amherst, Massachusetts.

“I believe it is extremely important to raise the profile of Laurier on the international stage through conference organization and I am very proud to be given the opportunity to do so for Laurier,” said Kotsireas. “There are several Laurier faculty who have contributed in putting Laurier on the map through their research and conference organization activities and I take great pride in being one of them.”

The connection between Kotsireas’ interest in disaster planning and his background in physics and computer science may not seem readily apparent. But after several years of collaborative work with optimization expert Pardalos, he recognized that the logistics of population evacuation and the administration of aid in areas damaged by disasters are highly complex situations that can be formulated as optimization problems.

“Pardalos taught me that there is a lot of potential for collaborative research in the area of disasters,” said Kotsireas. “After reading a number of papers, press releases and books on the subject, I was especially fascinated by the humanitarian aspects and decided to devote some of my time during my sabbatical, to learn more about this exciting research area.”

Humans experience a wide array of disasters which generally fall into two categories: natural disasters and man-made disasters. Both wreak havoc and provoke large-scale devastation. They also carry extremely serious financial repercussions for nations, organizations and thousands of people. In addition, there is often significant loss of life and infrastructure and property destruction. Therefore, the study of the dynamics of such disasters is an important endeavor, with huge benefits for nations, organizations, companies and individuals.

For more information, visit the International Conference on Dynamics of Disasters website.

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