Meet our new colleague – Gülçin Ermiş

Who are you?

Hi, I am Gulcin. I have just moved from the lovely city of Heidelberg to beautiful Delft where I now live across the Aula, next to TU Delft campus. I specialize in discrete optimization and my research interests include scheduling theory and applications, timetabling, vehicle routing, optimization of logistics operations on cross-border multi-modal distribution networks, constraint programming and combinatorial optimization.

I joined the Air Transport and Operations group at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering as a post-doctoral researcher on January 1st, 2022. During the past several years in Heidelberg, especially in my role as a Software Specialist at NEC Labs Europe GmbH, a research company funded by NEC Corporation in Japan, I was dealing with sea-ports, rail-ports, block trains, trucks, trailers, Ro-Ro ships and container terminal operations due to the Horizon 2020 EU Projects. Now, I will be supporting the projects of ATO group regarding sustainable airport technologies, i.e. SESAR AEON, and the activities of the Innovation Airport initiative, for which I am very excited.

Before moving to Heidelberg, I had lived in the Hague for about a year while working at a research institute of the Royal Academy. That year of mine was filled with art, history, windmills and flowers. Lavender cheese, beach and fish, Theresia street, Bezuidenhout, milk and lunch seminars, Van Gogh´s letters to Theo, Cornelius brothers, High Society exhibition in Rijksmuseum, company activities from Golf classes to grape yards and smart-agriculture, farewells and celebrations with plenty of Dutch snacks are some of my memories. Classics but Panorama Mesdag, Madurodam, and Delft biscuits are also not forgotten. I remember visiting Delft on a rainy day and enjoying the warm atmosphere in a cute café in the old town and the starry night song for Vincent brings all back when it suddenly starts to play.

Can you describe your career in brief?

Before joining TU Delft, I worked as a Senior Software Engineer at the R&D section of an American supply chain software company. In collaboration with the research team in the US and the development team in Germany, I contributed to the productization of an optimization solver for supply chain planning of Microsoft. Prior to this, from July 1st, 2018 to July 1st 2020, I worked as a Software Specialist at the Japanese research company, NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH, in Heidelberg. During this time, I actively enrolled in Horizon 2020 EU projects such as COGLO and COREALIS where I focused on solving the problems related to multi-modal logistics and container terminal operations. These works resulted in research outputs published by IEEE ITSC 2021, IJCAI 2021 and other conferences. I contributed to a recent work published in a journal. I worked with the business units of NEC in Japan. To solve complex and unique types of vehicle routing problems shared by the business units, I developed computationally efficient vehicle routing solvers. I worked with NEC Labs Singapore and other NEC units from Hong Kong and Japan on a bus scheduling solver. I developed a staff rostering and surgery/patient/room scheduling solver for a hospital in Rome, in collaboration with GVM Care & Research. I had the chance to follow the colloquiums on Machine Learning, 5G, Blockchain and joined the reading groups on Continual Learning and Aut oML. I have 50% and 33% contributions to two patent applications. Before NEC, I worked at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Data Archiving and Networked Services, the Hague, as a Software Developer and Researcher. I contributed to developing new features for Mendeley, EU Project PARTHENOS, and the data archiving software EASY which serves to deposit the research outputs and datasets. Open science, fairness, reusability and accessibility were the main concepts of DANS. Earlier, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Operations Management section of Sabanci Business School in Istanbul. I developed constraint programming solvers and local search algorithms for solving multi-objective timetabling problems and improving the robustness of the solutions, also designed IP models and algorithms for machine scheduling problems.

I spent my PhD, MSc, and BSc years in Istanbul. I received my PhD degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Management from Koc University, Graduate School of Sciences and Engineering. During the pursuit of a PhD degree, I took advanced level of optimization, stochastic, graph theory and integer programming courses. I was the TA of the courses Mathematical Programming, Optimization, Metaheuristics, Project Management, and Engineering Economics. My thesis topic was single machine scheduling problems with precedence and timelag constraints with unknown complexity status. I developed polynomial time algorithms to solve these problems and developed mixed integer programming models to test solution quality. I designed a branch and bound algorithm to solve an NP-hard single machine scheduling problem to compare its performance with commercial solvers. Outside the scope of research, I developed genetic algorithms for knapsack, tabu search methods for sequencing problems, and simulated annealing algorithms for an unconstrained problem with continuous objective function. I also spent some time for the qualifier. I received my MSc and BSc degrees from technical universities of Istanbul, ITU and YTU. For my master thesis at ITU, I developed a decision making tool to support fund raising and fund allocation strategies of nonprofit organizations and for my BSc thesis at YTU, I implemented a vehicle routing solver to solve the multi depot vehicle routing problem on the distribution network of a company.

Why Delft?

Delft means TU Delft. The Hague is a princess, Delft is a gate to space.

TU Delft has always impressed me since I witnessed the competencies of the affiliated people from time to time, even when I had not seen the campus yet. Whenever I see a brilliant young engineer in industry, it turns out that he or she is a graduate of TU Delft and each time I join the talk of a person from TU Delft at an academic conference, I see a high quality work. After my arrival, I see that this is not a coincidence. I had a very lucky start by finding a place to stay that is close to TU Delft area and I am fascinated by the laboratories, variety of fields, and the beauty and order of campus. The university is surrounded by companies. With its cycling and walking paths it suggests an easy access for everybody. It is the heart of Science and Technology and I think very tempting for students, staff, and all other stakeholders.

Your greatest research challenge at the moment?

There are so many things to learn, discover and build upon. Life is too short to know it all.

Losing yourself in a sea of options and paths. Where to start, and where to go?

That is why I like the research themes framed by project scopes and evolve with involving the pilot partners.

They shake a cloudy mind and put it on track.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like painting, swimming, listening to music, walking outdoors and traveling. Learning a new language, a local movie, a song or a book in that language gives me the greatest joy and the feeling of decoding a society or a new world. The photo belongs to my PhD years when I was at a summer school at Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge. Apart from having a great time of learning from an amazing group of mathematicians, I had the time for a punting tour while hearing the stories of the Cambridge colleges across the river. Seeing the Mathematical bridge over the river Cam and Newton´s tree in front of the Trinity college had made my trip full and I was the happiest.

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