UMSL Business Blog

Paula Penagos is Pushing Boundaries and Finding Her Way in the Ph.D. in Supply Chain Analytics Program

Paula Penagos found her place at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in a unique way. Paula is a current Ph.D. student in the Supply Chain Analytics program. She began her educational journey at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, earning a Bachelor of Civil Engineering, and then enrolled in the doctoral program at UMSL without a master’s degree, through the help of her undergraduate professor and motivation from her brother.

As an undergraduate in Colombia, Paula was a star student, she became a Teaching Assistant position for three different courses, she joined a research group, and completed an internship with the government. Seeing Paula’s potential early on, her professor became a mentor over the years helping her to achieve more. Upon graduating, Paula’s professor recommended that she enroll in the Ph.D. program at UMSL, in Supply Chain Analytics, explaining how her engineering education can cross over into supply chain logistics with transportation being the foundation of supply chain. He then informed her of an opening for a Graduate Research Assistant in the Supply Chain Department with its new Ph.D. program, that would help with the cost of tuition and living arrangements. Being a lover of numbers and ready to further her education, Paula was interested. She sat down to have a conversation with her older brother Juan, who was already a student at UMSL in the Master of Science in Biology program. From her brother’s experience, to researching more about UMSL, and understanding the Supply Chain Department’s research topics, Paula was sold on attending UMSL. She reviewed the requirements for entering the program and noticed that some universities in the United States offered students who have an extensive research background, the opportunity to skip over a master’s (this has changed in the College of Business Administration at UMSL), so Paula was on her way to the United States to attend the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

Paula Penagos at a conference

Paula began the Ph.D. program in the Fall 2022 semester and started excelling in her studies. She has attended several research conferences and conducted research with faculty members. Paula’s research topics cover supply chain logistics and transportation. In the program, she enjoys making the connection between engineering (from her undergraduate degree) and data analytics along with supply chain domains (from her current studies). When doing research, Paula describes her approach as mixed. She dives into a great deal of analytics but she also likes concepts that are applied; this includes surveys, case studies, and other methods to analyze real-world data. This is how she grows as a researcher, combining methods to compile data. 

In addition to being a researcher in the industry, Paula plans to stay in academia. As a child, she had the pleasure of watching her mother who was a professor at Universidad de Antioquia. Since then, Paula had a hidden passion for teaching and education. She currently works alongside Dr. George Zsidisin, John W. Barriger Professor of Supply Chain, teaching undergraduate courses in supply chain, and conducts research with Dr. Trilce Encarnacion,  Assistant Professor of Supply Chain and Analytics. Paula is extremely grateful for the opportunities she has come across in her academic career. Her future is bright and she will continue to inspire others through teaching, and solve real-world relevant problems through her research.