Group for Research in Decision Analysis

Message from the director

October 2019

First, I want to warmly thank the members and directors of GERAD for entrusting me with the responsibility for our research centre over the next four years.
The following is an excerpt from the presentation I gave to the members on February 22, 2019, when I put my name forward for the position of director. (I have updated some of the dates as of October 2019 for this text.)

I hold a diploma in business computer engineering from the CNAM (France) and a PhD in economic and social science from the University of Geneva (Switzerland). After my doctoral studies, in 1995, I joined the Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland), where, for eight years I led several research projects analyzing Swiss and European climate and energy policies.

Since 2003, I have been teaching (full professor since 2015) in the Department of Decision Sciences at HEC Montréal. I was director of that department from June 2016 to May 2019. I mainly teach classes on decision support at the graduate levels. As a researcher I am specialized in modelling the links between economics, energy and the environment, particularly from the point of view of climate change. Therefore I work with several classes of models, including the International Energy Agency’s TIMES model and the so-called integrated assessment models such as BaHaMa (which came out of a collaboration at GERAD) and MERGE (initially developed at Stanford University). I use those models on the one hand to analyze canadian energy policies and, on the other hand, to study the various strategies (mitigation, adaptation and geoengineering) that can be deployed to face the threats of climate change. An overview of these applications is offered in an article I wrote in 2018 in Environmental Modelling and Assessment (vol. 23, pp. 691–701). In addition, I have been co-director of HEC Montréal’s Pôle E3 (since June 2016), a multidisciplinary platform of energy and environmental expertise. I am also associate editor of the journals Energy Strategy Reviews and Environmental Modeling and Assessment.

I have been a GERAD member since 2004, but my attachment to the centre goes back much further. I first spent time at GERAD in 1988 as a trainee for my engineering studies in France. Then, during my doctoral studies in Switzerland, I had regular research stays at GERAD. In my opinion, collaboration is one of the centre’s most important aspects and I take full advantage of the opportunities it offers. In recent years, I co-wrote articles with several GERAD members. Here they are in alphabetical order: M. Breton, E. Delage, A. Haurie, R. Loulou, R. Malhamé, J.-P. Waaub and G. Zaccour. At the moment, I am working more particularly with P. Caines, E. Delage, A. Haurie and R. Malhamé on the theme of smart power grids, under an IVADO grant.

Beyond the scientific aspect, the position of GERAD director naturally involves a significant administrative component. Through my term as director of the Department of Decision Sciences from June 2016 to May 2019, I developed highly useful skills to take up this challenge.

Without question, GERAD enjoys an excellent reputation, both nationally and internationally. During my term, I first want to contribute to maintaining our centre’s excellence, for instance by fostering collaboration between members and ensure recruitment of high-quality new members. I also would like us to develop (or rather strengthen) some “new” avenues of research, at the methodological level (e.g develop links between machine learning and optimisation) as well as at the application level (e.g on the theme of smart cities). All of this should help us take advantage of the many opportunities available to GERAD, such as industrial partnerships that we can establish within the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO). It will also put us on the right path for the 2021 renewal of our FRQNT Strategic Clusters grant.

Olivier Bahn