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Personal profile

Personal profile

Derya Demirtas is an associate professor at the Center for Healthcare Operations Improvement & Research (CHOIR) in the Section of Industrial Engineering and Business Information Systems at the University of Twente. Her research focuses on operations research, optimization and data analytics, location theory and their applications to healthcare and emergency response.
Dr. Demirtas is a recipient of the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Veni talent grant, Top Sector Life Sciences & Health PPP Grant, and American Heart Association Young Investigator Award. She received the Best Poster Award by the National Association of EMS Physicians (2016) and won the second place in the INFORMS Section on Public Sector Operations Research best paper competition (2012) and second place in the INFORMS Case Competition (2020). Her research has been published in journals such as Management Science, European Journal of Operational Research, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and Health Care Management Science (HCMS). She serves in several academic roles including co-chair of NWO Advisory Roundtable (Behaviour, Education  & Economic Sciences), chair of UT Examination Board Management Sciences, associate editor for HCMS, area editor for Health Systems and editorial board member of Operations Research for Health Care. She was a visiting faculty in the Industrial and Systems Engineering and in the Center for Health & Humanitarian Systems at Georgia Tech in 2018, where she worked on disaster response. 

ACADEMIC BACKGROUND: Dr. Demirtas received her BSc in Industrial Engineering with a double major in Computer Engineering from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey (2008). She then obtained her MMath in Combinatorics & Optimization from the University of Waterloo, Canada (2010), and her PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto, Canada (2016).

IN THE MEDIA: Dr. Demirtas's research has been publicized by several media outlets including RTV Oost, Tubantia, Toronto Star, CBC News, and Reuters, and promoted by the Univ. of Twente: https://youtu.be/CFS6F3gkCrY

Research interests

Operations research, optimization, spatial data analytics and their applications in healthcare and humanitarian sector: in particular, linear and integer programming, facility location under uncertainty, covering problems, spatiotemporal trend analysis, public health resource planning, post-disaster recovery and emergency service location problems.


RESEARCH PROJECTS: The focus of Dr. Demirtas’s research is on data-driven decision making aimed at improving healthcare and humanitarian systems. Her projects include:

  • Optimizing the locations of public access defibrillators to improve survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA): In this research, we develop a comprehensive data-driven modeling framework for emergency facility deployment, leveraging optimization, metaheuristics and data science. Our models analyze the spatiotemporal trends in demand (OHCA) and supply (citizen volunteers), estimate citizen volunteer response rates using machine learning and historical data, and optimize locations of emergency facilities under both demand and supply uncertainty.

In collaboration with: UMC Amsterdam (location Amsterdam), HartslagNu, Dutch Heart Foundation

  • Smart watch to detect unwitnessed OHCAs: Our consortium will develop a smart wearable to automatically and reliably detect OHCA, and to trigger an immediate emergency response. Our work package will test the effectiveness of the proposed platform using simulation models and measure the impact on survival and response time.

In collaboration with: UMC Amsterdam (location VUmc), Stan B.V., 111 B.V., Wavy Assistant B.V.

  • Improving citizen volunteer response to OHCA: In the Netherlands, an innovative app, HartslagNu, alerts registered volunteers when an OHCA occurs nearby, and dispatches them either to the victim for CPR, or to an AED and then to the patient. In this research, we investigate potential improvement in HartslagNu’s dispatch strategy by creating simulation models to test various volunteer assignment strategies. Moreover, we investigate effects of mobile AEDs and targeted volunteer recruitment in terms of response time and survival. 

In collaboration with: Stan B.V., HartslagNu

  • Optimizing the staff allocation in radiotherapy: The goal of this project is to maximize the number of patients completing the pre-treatment stage in radiotherapy (RT) within the waiting time targets. We focus on the tactical planning of radiation therapy technologists (RTTs) throughout the pre-treatment process of the RT treatment chain considering stochastic patient arrivals.

In collaboration with: Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (NKI-AvL) hospital, Polytechnique Montreal

  • Process optimization in clinical chemistry laboratories: The focus of this project is to assess the operations from blood withdrawal to first results, and investigate different configurations and prioritization rules in order to reduce diagnostics turnaround time and improve the laboratory performance.

In collaboration with: UMC Amsterdam (location VUmc), UMC Amsterdam (location Amsterdam), Erasmus MC

  • Post-disaster recovery: The aim of this research is to create efficient models to help decision making in debris collection. We focus on partitioning the affected area into zones and assigning these to contractors while minimizing costs, maximizing societal benefits and maintaining contiguity of zones.

In collaboration with: Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Process improvement in private hospitals in South Africa: This research aims to investigate what constitutes problematic waiting times, the causes of these waiting times, and possible interventions to be designed to reduce these waiting times in a private hospital in South Africa.

In collaboration with: North-West University, South Africa



PhD Student Supervision 

  • Robin Buter, "Strategic placement of Automated External Defibrillators under demand and supply uncertainty," expected to graduate in 2024
  • Maria van Zyl, "Process improvement in public hospitals in South Africa," expected to graduate in 2024
  • Eline Tsai, “Operations research from blood withdrawal to first results,” expected to graduate in 2024
  • Bruno Vieira, “Advanced Logistics Optimization of the Radiotherapy Treatment,” graduated in 2020

Graduate Student Awards Won by My Master and PhD Students

  • “Best of the Best” presentation finalist, European Resuscitation Conference, awarded to R. Buter, 2023. Title: “Health economic evaluation of data-driven AEDs”, (among 5 awardees out of 400+ submissions).
  • “Best of the Best” presentation finalist, European Resuscitation Conference, awarded to R. Buter, 2022. Title: “Strategic placement of citizen responder system defibrillators”, (among 7 awardees out of 200+ submissions).   
  • Operational Research Applied to Health Sciences (ORAHS) Gallivan Poster Awards, first place, awarded to R. Buter, 2022. Title: "Spatiotemporal Analysis of Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests".
  • Bekader (IEM & IBA alumni association) Thesis Award for IEM, first place, awarded to S.Relijveld, 2021. Thesis title: "Analysis on the Costs of Care for Colorectal Cancer Patients Using Australian Multicentered Linked Data".
  • BMS faculty Graduation Award, first place, awarded to G. Holsbrink, 2021. Thesis title: "The Optimal Allocation of Casualties to Hospitals in case of a Mass-casualty Incidence".
  • KHMW Philips Graduation Award for Data Science and AI in Health Care, awarded to A. Nazarian, 2018. Thesis title: "Optimizing the Deployment of Automated External Defibrillators by a Data-driven Algorithmic Approach".

Master’s and Bachelor Thesis Supervision (summary)

  • Healthcare logistics projects at Amsterdam University Medical Center (UMC); Radboud UMC; Utrecht UMC; RIVM; ZGT, Almelo; Sint Maartenskliniek, Nijmegen; St. Antonius Hospital, Utrecht; Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem; MST, Enschede; Slingeland Hospital, Doetinchem; Boven Hospital, Amsterdam; Deventer Ziekenhuis; AcuteZorg Euregio, Enschede; StanCPR Network; Auckland City Hospital, New Zealand; University of Melbourne, Australia; Victoria Hospital, London, Canada;
  • Logistics projects at Albert Heijn, Voortman, Bol.com, Westphalia DataLab, Hema, Benchmark, Contour Covering Technology BV, PoolPlaza, Demcon Production, Royal Lemkes, CORE Chemistry.

Master’s Capita Selecta (Short-term Internship) Supervision (summary)

  • Healthcare logistics projects at UMC Utrecht, Netherlands Cancer Institute Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (NKI-AvL), Willem Kolff Stichting & Nierstichting


Instructor, Industrial Engineering & Management Bachelor and Master’s Program (2016 – present)

  • Operations Research Techniques 1 (1st quartile, yearly), ~75 students, 5 European Credits (5ECs)
  • Warehousing (4th quartile, yearly), ~75 students, 5 ECs
  • Professional Skills (2019 – 2020), 160 students
  • IEM Research Orientation (2017 – 2018), 60 students, 5 ECs

Coordinator & Instructor, Health Sciences Master's Program (2021 - present) 

  • Optimizing Healthcare Processes (2nd quartile, yearly), ~25 students, 5 ECs

Instructor, European Association of Hospital Managers (EAHM) (2018)

  • Crash course on operations management for hospital managers (together with Ines Marques)

Instructor, Global Faculty Program, Monterrey Inst. of Technology, Mexico (2018) 

  • Facilities Design and Materials Management, 20 students
  • Optimization Models, 20 students
  • Applications of Optimization in Healthcare, 30 students 

Instructor, Health Sciences Bachelor Program (2016) 

  • Operations Management (OM) in Healthcare (in Module 4: Optimization of Care), 50 students, 3 ECs 
  • OM Practicum (in Module 4), 50 students, 3 ECs       
  • Project: Optimization of Healthcare Processes (in Module 4), 50 students, 1 EC 


  • Guest lecturer, Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal (2018)
  • Author, Case Study on Maximizing Team Diversity in a First-year Engineering Course, University of Toronto (2015)
  • Guest Lecturer, MIE 258 Engineering Economics and Accounting, University of Toronto (2015)
  • Certificate in Prospective Professors in Training, University of Toronto (2014)
  • Guest Lecturer, MIE 468 Facility Planning, University of Toronto (2013)
  • Teaching Assistant, Dept. of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto (2010 – 2015)
  • Teaching Assistant, Division of Engineering Science, University of Toronto (2011)
  • Teaching Assistant, Dept. of Combinatorics and Optimization, University of Waterloo (2008 – 2010)


  • Chair, Examination Board, TBK/IEM, 2022 – present
  • Member, Young Academy Twente, 2022 – present
  • Member, Examination Board, TBK/IEM, 2021 – present
  • Member, OLC (Opleidingscommissie – Program Committee), TBK/IEM, 2017 – 2021

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Toronto

Award Date: 2 Feb 2016

Master, University of Waterloo

Award Date: 8 Aug 2010

External positions

Visiting Faculty, Georgia Institute of Technology

Jan 2018Apr 2018

Artificial Intelligence Expert

  • Data Mining, Process Mining and Search
  • Machine Learning: from Traditional Methods to Deep Neural Networks
  • Health and Well-being
  • Geo Sciences


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