Alumni News and Views

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RAND Research Briefs help to present the findings of key research in an easy-to-digest format. These are among the research briefs published since the last issue of the Alumni Bulletin.

In Remembrance: Norm Shapiro and Bill Gorham

Norm Shapiro at RAND  in 1955

Norm Shapiro at RAND in 1955

Norman Zalmon (Norm) Shapiro passed away on October 14. Over a 40-year RAND career, the innovative mathematician and computer scientist was on the cutting edge of efforts to improve the efficiency, security, and accessibility of computing technologies.

Shapiro joined RAND in 1955 after completing his Ph.D. at Princeton University, during which he held an internship at Bell Labs. His early RAND research included contributions to future Nobel Prize winner Lloyd Shapley's Values of Large Games series that improved understanding of how game theory applies to “mass competition” scenarios, such as elections and economic markets. Shapiro would go on to develop mathematical models of chemical reactions that paved the way for breakthroughs in fields ranging from thermodynamics to medicine. In 1964, he received an award from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare for his contributions to computer-based research for the U.S. Public Health Service and National Institutes of Health.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Shapiro turned to data security, management, and processing efficiency, pioneering models to secure databanks (including evaluating the value of centralized versus decentralized data storage), networks to support large-scale data analysis and information systems for federal agencies, design principles for interactive graphic displays, foundational keystroke signature analysis, and the novel Message Handling (MH) open-source email client that leveraged the UNIX command interface and the RANDMail software system that followed. He also co-developed a computer-assisted writing aid, CLARIFY, designed specifically for technical writing and more sophisticated than the basic error-detection systems of the time, and laid the groundwork for computer modeling approaches that combined quantitative and qualitative data.

Shapiro, who retired from RAND in 1995, might be best known among current RANDites as the co-author of the timeless Toward an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail; it was published in 1985, but the guidance, tips, and best practices remain valuable. In his free time, Shapiro, an avid cyclist throughout his life, organized lunchtime bike rides with Santa Monica colleagues.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.

Bill Gorham (courtesy  of the Urban Institute)

Bill Gorham

Photo courtesy of the Urban Institute

William (Bill) Gorham passed away on December 28. The former RAND economist served as founding president of the Urban Institute for more than three decades.

Gorham joined RAND in 1953 while working on his master's degree at Stanford University. His research focused on Air Force personnel planning and skill development to help the service meet its retention goals. He also developed computer-based mathematical models to support Air Force personnel plans and training programs to match the service's manpower to its requirements. In the early 1960s, Gorham served as liaison to the Air Force's Directorate of Plans and Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs.

Gorham left RAND in 1962 when Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara appointed him Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower. In 1965, he joined the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and, three years later, was selected by President Lyndon Johnson to launch a new institute as part of the War on Poverty. That assignment led to the development of the independent, nonpartisan Urban Institute, with Gorham at its helm.

Gorham headed the Urban Institute until his retirement in 2000. He maintained his relationship to RAND over the years, including serving on the advisory board of the RAND/Urban Institute Program for Research on Immigration Policy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Urban Institute's William Gorham Leadership Program.

We recall fondly all of our RAND alumni who have recently passed away. Read tributes to them, and more about Norm and Bill, in the members-only In Remembrance section of our website.

Veterans Policy Institute Holds Inaugural Board Meeting

The RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute convened its first advisory board meeting on March 2 in RAND's Santa Monica office.

Institute codirectors Carrie Farmer and Rajeev Ramchand opened the meeting with an overview of the institute's goals and acknowledged the staff across RAND who supported its launch one year ago and are performing groundbreaking research on issues affecting veterans.

After remarks by Michael Rich about RAND's legacy of research supporting veterans and board member Dan Epstein, whose foundation provided initial funding for the institute, Farmer and Ramchand shared highlights from the past year and provided a preview of upcoming research and outreach activities. The center's research focuses on reducing veteran suicide, eliminating veteran homelessness, and improving veterans' transitions from military to civilian life, particularly among vulnerable veterans and those who have experienced trauma during military service.

Board members also heard an update on RAND's partnership with the University of Southern California (USC). RAND and USC collaborate to conduct studies, disseminate findings, and educate stakeholders and the public about the needs of veterans. The meeting featured a briefing on one such project—the first study to systematically track veterans experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.

Event Explores What's Next for the U.S. Supreme Court

On February 14, Adam Liptak, Supreme Court correspondent at the New York Times, and Lee Epstein, the Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, visited RAND virtually to share their expertise on the court's structure and internal balance of power, the implications of past and current cases before the court, and why it matters who is confirmed to serve on the court. Nancy Staudt, Frank and Marcia Carlucci Dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School and vice president, Innovation for RAND, introduced the speakers and moderated the discussion.

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Forbes Lists RAND as One of America's Best Midsize Employers

Forbes included RAND on its list of America's Best Midsize Employers for 2022. The rankings were published on February 10, and RAND comes in at the top one-fifth of all midsized companies in the list (107 out of 500). According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data, 8,290 firms in the United States employ between 1,000 and 4,999 staff; this ranking places RAND at the top 1 percent of midsized companies in the country.

Forbes arrived at this list independently; the organizations included did not pursue this recognition. To arrive at its ranking, the magazine worked with Statista, a market research company, to survey 60,000 Americans working at companies with at least 1,000 employees. The people surveyed were asked to rate (on a scale of one to ten) if they would recommend their employer as a place to work. Other criteria, such as working conditions, growth opportunities, and compensation, were also taken into account.

Last spring, the same magazine named RAND as one of America's Best Employers for Diversity.