Sheldon Howard Jacobson Ph.D.
GEBI Founder Professor of Engineering
Director, Simulation and Optimization Laboratory
201 North Goodwin Avenue (MC-258)
Telephone: (217) 244-7275
Fax: (217) 244-6869
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-9042-8750
Primary and Affiliate Appointments:
Professor of Computer Science
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering
Professor of Pediatrics (
Sheldon H. Jacobson is the GEBI Founder Professor in Engineering, Director of the Simulation and Optimization Laboratory, and Founding Director of the Bed Time Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He holds appointments in Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mathematics, and the College of Medicine. He has a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Mathematics from McGill University and a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Cornell University. He has served on the faculties at Case Western Reserve University (Weatherhead School of Management, 1988-1993), Virginia Tech (Industrial and Systems Engineering, 1993-1999), and the University of Illinois (1999-present). He served as Program Director for the Operations Research program at the National Science Foundation from 2012-2014.
He has published 176 peer-reviewed articles, 11 book chapters, 48 conference proceedings, 27 professional and editorial publications, and delivered over 470 presentation, seminars and posters at conferences, universities, and research laboratories around the world. He has directed 21 Ph.D. dissertations and been awarded over $4.5M of research support from the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
As the Director of the Bed Time Research Institute, he spearheaded the creation of two research videos (“A Healthy Collaboration: Pediatric Immunization and Operations Research”, “Aviation Security: Researching the Risk.”) and launched three websites (bracketodds.cs.illinois.edu, electionanalytics.cs.illinois.edu, drivingobesity.cs.illinois.edu), all designed to communicate the value of basic research through Broader Impact activities, and promulgate STEM activities for enhancing and growing a technically literate citizenry.
He has made several seminal research contributions, all focusing on applying operations research and advanced analytics to address societal problems of national interest. His research on multi-level aviation security passenger screening at airports was the precursor to risk-based security, providing the foundational concepts that led to TSA Precheck©. His research on the design of pediatric vaccine formularies introduced the use of operations research in the pediatric immunization domain. His research on bridging obesity, transportation, and fuel consumption established the impact of transportation on obesity, providing the foundation for non-medical obesity interventions based on modes of transportation.
His research has been widely reported and communicated in the national press, including the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe, editorialized in the New York Times, and discussed in Business Week, Forbes, Kiplinger, and The Osgood Files on CBS radio. He has appeared on The Street Signs (CNBC), The Closing Bell (CNBC), Weekends with Alex Witt (MSNBC), Washington Post Radio, CBS This Morning, and CBC Canada News (television and radio), and BBC World News (television and radio).
He has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (2003), the IISE David F. Baker Distinguished Research Award (2017), IISE Award for Technical Innovation in Industrial Engineering (2010, 2013), the Aviation Security Research Award (Aviation Security International) (2002), the IIE Outstanding Publication Award (2009), the Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Operations Research (IISE Operations Research Division) (2011). He was a runner-up for the Christopher Columbus Homeland Security Award (Transportation and Border Security) (2010). He is an elected Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) (2013) and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) (2011). He is also the recipient of several best paper and poster awards.
His leadership and expertise have been used by both government and professional societies. He briefed personnel within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (in the executive Office of President George W. Bush) on 31 August 2002, on issues related to aviation security and assessing the cost and benefit of checked baggage screening strategies. He briefed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) on a web-site he co-developed for designing optimal pediatric vaccine formularies at their October 2001 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. He has served on committees for the National Academies, including the National Research Council Committee on Airport Passenger Screening: Backscatter X-Ray Machines (2013-2015) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Standing Committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Strategic National Stockpile (2015-Present). He led the NSF-Funded workshop (May 2016), Setting a Broader Impacts Innovation Roadmap, in creating new pathways for enhancing Broader Impacts in the Engineering Directorate at the NSF. He served as the (elected) Treasurer for INFORMS (2015-2016).
Broader Impacts: How research supported by the National Science Foundation makes the world better for all. Read a preliminary draft of the Workshop Report: Setting a Broader Impacts Innovation Roadmap.
(11 September 2017) Study: Congressional redistricting less contentious when resolved using computer algorithm, based on the paper “The Geo-Graph in Practice: Creating United States Congressional Districts from Census Blocks,” which will appear in Combinatorial Optimization and Applications.
(5 September 2017) “Halting the Erosion of State Support for Higher Education,” Op-Ed, Insider Higher Ed.
(21 March 2017) What to know about the new airline electronics bans (CBC News Canada) quotes Sheldon H. Jacobson on the US Department of Homeland Security requirement that large electronic devices be stowed in checked luggage for flights originating in certain countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa. See also Here’s Why the U.S. Is Banning Larger Electronics on Some Overseas Flights (Katie Reilly, Time), Why the airline 'electronics ban' may not be discrimination (Patrick Reilly, Christian Science Monitor), Clamping down on carry-on devices (CBC News Canada), and two interviews on BBC World News.
Potential PhD Graduate Students
Visit the Bed Time Research Institute (BTRI)
Web Sites of Interest within the BTRI
1) What drives obesity? Visit Driving Obesity for the answer.
2) The 2017 Election is now in the books. Visit Election Analytics for a summary of what happened.
3) March Madness 2017... What are your bracket odds? Visit Bracketodds to find out what happened.
Visit the Media and Outreach Presentation
For a seminar on bracketology:
Looking for a Ph.D. Advisor?
Interested in supporting Jacobson’s research on policy, public health, societal issues, or bracketology?
For more information, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org He would be happy to hear from you.
Sheldon H. Jacobson, Ph.D.
Goodwin Avenue (MC-258)
Telephone: (217) 244-7275
Fax: (217) 244-6869
Last updated: 11 September 2017
Counter set: 5 June 1999