Joann de Zegher

The Maurice F. Strong Career Development Professor and Assistant Professor of Operations Management.

Joann de Zegher joined the MIT Sloan faculty this summer and soon found herself at home in the Sustainability Initiative. Her most recent research focuses on two areas: developing innovative approaches to traceability in the first-mile of commodity supply chains, like palm oil, and mitigating forced labor in seafood supply chains.

Supply chain management has a significant impact on key social and environmental challenges like deforestation, ocean conservation, and forced labor.

“A company’s supply chain determines nearly eighty percent of its environmental impact and supply chains that traverse national borders employ over one in five workers,” Joann says.

Joann notes that 475 million households in developing and emerging economies supply nearly fifty percent of the world's food calories, but often have to sell via inefficient and informal mechanisms in the 'first mile' of global supply chains.

“Company commitments to developing sustainable supply chains have grown exponentially over the past decade,” she says. “My research seeks to address challenges that companies face in implementing such commitments, including limited visibility into the supply chain and complex trade-offs in procurement.”

Joann hopes to design and analyze platforms that improve, digitize, and create traceability in the operations of informal supply chains in emerging and developing economies. She is also working on controlled experiments in decentralized supply chains to test emerging theories, e.g. about incentives to mitigate deforestation in the supply chain. Ultimately, her vision is to design novel, technology-informed approaches to advance social and environmental impact in informal and global supply chains.

I'm thrilled about the opportunity to engage with MIT faculty, students and partner organizations working on topics I care so deeply about, Joann says.

The approach and core values of the Sustainability Initiative align strongly with mine, and S-Lab is the type of class I have always wanted to be a part of.

Joann came to us from Stanford University, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in operations, information, and technology. She also holds a PhD from Stanford and an MS in econometrics and management science from Erasmus University Rotterdam.