Professor Maria Paola Scaparra

Professor of Management Science
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Professor Maria Paola Scaparra


Maria Paola Scaparra is a Professor of Management Science and a member of the Centre for Logistics and Heuristic Optimisation (CLHO). Paola moved to Kent Business School in 2004 from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she held a position as a postdoctoral researcher in infrastructure and transportation planning. She earned an MSc in Engineering-Economic Systems and Operations Research from Stanford University in 2000 and a PhD in Mathematics Applied to Economic Decisions from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 2002. 

Over the years, Paola held several leadership roles within the school, including Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, Head of the Management Science Group, Programme Director for the MSc Business Analytics and Coordinator of the in-company scheme for the management science group. 

Paola is a member of the General Council of the UK Operational Research Society (Education Committee), the Scientific Committee for the 2021 CABS Academic Journal Guide, the Committee of Professors of Operational Research (COPIOR), and the EURO Working Group on Locational Analysis (EWGLA). She is also a member of the Editorial Board of the journal IISE Transactions (Area: Scheduling and Logistics) and the journal International Regional Science Review. 

Paola has refereed for several leading OR and geographical journals, including Operations Research, Management Science, Transportation Science, EJOR, JORS, Omega, Computers and Operational Research, Geographical Analysis, and Socio Economic Planning Sciences among others. She has also reviewed research applications for national and international research funding agencies, including ESRC, EPSRC, the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, and the Chilean National Science and Technology Commission (FONDECYT).
Paola has been a programme committee member for several international conferences, has given plenary and keynote sessions at international meetings and several research seminars at leading institutions across the UK, Europe and the US.

Research interests

Paola’s research focuses on the development of analytics tools and optimisation models for disaster management, humanitarian logistics, healthcare service planning, transportation planning and sustainable development. She has published many papers and book chapters on these topics in top-ranked operational research and geography journals and has been involved in several international, multi-disciplinary and consultancy projects.
Paola’s recent main line of inquiry involves exploring how Operational Research (OR) can contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and help solve intractable challenges in developing countries. Recently, she has been leading two projects funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which involve using OR integrated with other disciplines to address development challenges in the areas of disaster management, infrastructure development, smart cities and food security in Southeast Asia.

Research and Innovation Grants

  • “Improving Community Resilience and Sustainability through Operational Research Capacity Building in Southeast Asia”, PI, GCRF-EPSRC, 2020-2022 (£265,127), CREST-OR
  • Eurostar Knowledge Transfer Partnership, Co-I, Innovate UK, 2018-2020 (£176,513)
  • “Optimal investment strategies to minimise flood impact on road infrastructure in Vietnam”, PI, GCRF - British Academy, 2018-2019 (£291,876), GCRF-OSIRIS
  • John Parker & Son Ltd Knowledge Transfer Partnership, Co-I, Innovate UK, 2016-2019 (£185,262)
  • Dover Harbour Board Knowledge Transfer Partnership, Lead Academic, Innovate UK, 2015–2017 (£144,532)
  • Design and protection strategies for critical infrastructure systems, PI, EPSRC, 2007-2010 (£195,684)
  • Linear optimisation of defence logistics intra-theatre transport, Consultant, Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Ministry of Defence, 2010 (£1,594)
  • Supply chain reliability and robustness, PI, Travel grant, EPSRC, 2007 (£2,505) "


Professor Scaparra has taught several different modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. These include introductory modules in management science and operational research, mathematics for business, spreadsheets and decision support systems, applied business modelling, and research methods among others.


Current Supervisees:

  • Vivianne Horsti Dos Santos: Developing a multi-methodology framework to optimise the Brazilian primary health care system for older people
  • Jane Christie: Consulting with executives in the UK government: Use of multimethodology to support strategic decision-making
  • Betul Coban: Integrating Mitigation, Response and Recovery Operations for Efficient Disaster Management

Past Supervisees:

  • Annunziata Esposito Amideo: Optimization Approaches for Improving Mitigation and Response Operations in Disaster Management
  • Stefano Starita: Protecting Transportation Infrastructure Against Terrorist Attacks and Natural Events: Models and Algorithms
  • Christina Ioannidou: Optimising River Infrastructure Placement and Mitigation Decisions
  • Abdullah Alharbi: Integration of Police Deployment and Facility Location
  • Thomas Jeffries: Enhancing Supply Chain Management of Blood Donation Services
  • Chandra Ade Irawan: Aggregation Technique in a Class of Location Problems
  • Federico Liberatore: Design and Protection Strategies for Critical Infrastructure System and Supply Chains
  • Chaya Losada: Design and Protection of Critical Infrastructure System and Supply Chain
  • Sheema Noorain: Combining PSMs with Hard OR Methods to Address Efficiency and Equality of Mental Healthcare Services


Paola has worked with a range of private and public sector organisations in the UK and overseas. These include the UK National Health Service (NHS), the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the Port of Dover, Eurostar and the Vietnam Ministry of Transport. She has supported these organisations by providing optimisation and analytics expertise to improve their operational efficiency. 

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