Dr. Elmira Popova graduated with an MS in Mathematics from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria in 1985, and a PhD in Operations Research from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio in 1995. She joined The University of Texas at Austin in 1995 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Graduate Program in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. In 2008 she was named a Fulbright Scholar and in 1999 she received the Cockrell School of Engineering's Halliburton/Brown & Root Young Faculty Excellence Award in teaching and research.
Dr. Popova specializes in stochastic processes, computational Bayesian statistics, and stochastic optimization. She is interested in reliability analysis and in design of optimal maintenance strategies for randomly failing systems. Since 2004 she has collaborated with the Risk Management Group at South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC) on designing and developing a new risk-informed system for reliability estimation and preventive maintenance scheduling. The main objectives of this research are: to make optimal risk-informed decisions at both operational and executive management levels by taking into account budgets, internal project dependencies, outage durations, and regulatory safety constraints; to appropriately model and account for the uncertainty related to rates of return on investments, energy prices, failure mechanisms, and costs for replacement and spare parts; and, to provide decision-makers quantified feedback on decision-making performance. A preliminary version of the system is currently being tested by system engineers at STPNOC and is expected to be used in real-time production by the spring of 2010.
Dr. Popova spent two years on Wall Street, where she worked on developing new high-frequency trading strategies and asset allocation models. Her research in portfolio allocation was used to analyze and suggest allocations for pension plans, university endowments and high-net-worth individuals, with the largest single portfolio managed being $6 billion. Dr. Popova continues to do research in quantitative finance such as statistical-arbitrage trading strategies, computing equity prices, and optimal asset allocation decisions. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute, STPNOC, and several other industrial sponsors.