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.
Prior to becoming the KBS Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, Paola held other leadership roles within the school, including 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.
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
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.
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.