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AUGUST 2020 NEWSLETTER
 
From Oden Institute Director, Karen Willcox 
The Fall semester is already upon us and excitement is growing across campus. As most of you know by now, we will be delivering almost all taught Ph.D. and Masters courses online. Still we welcome our new students, postdocs, and researchers into the Oden Institute community with just as much enthusiasm as ever. I am especially excited to welcome this year's exceptionally talented O'Donnell Postdoctoral Fellows (pictured above). You can read more about these postdocs in the article below.

Two new assistant professors will join the Oden Institute core faculty this month, representing the first time that the Institute has had the opportunity to play a leadership role in recruiting junior faculty. Dr. Bo Zhao joins us from Harvard Medical School and will have Biomedical Engineering as his home department. Dr. Joe Kileel joins us from Princeton and will have Mathematics as his home department. We will feature stories about Dr. Zhao and Dr. Kileel next month.

I would also like to thank our Moncrief Summer interns who presented their final poster sessions via Zoom last week. Despite the difficulties faced working and researching from home, all 11 undergraduate students did an excellent job throughout the summer. Their accomplishments are truly inspiring. 
 
Computational Modeling Techniques Enable Unprecedented Visualizations of Heart Valve Implant Behavior 

Computational modeling has provided new insights into the heart’s vascular system, a complex and mechanically demanding system that remains poorly understood.
Drs. Thomas J.R. Hughes and Michael Sacks from the Oden Institute and researchers from Iowa State University used computational modeling techniques to enable accurate visualizations of valve behavior for the first time.

The research was featured in the most recent edition of the journal PNAS in a paper entitled: Thinner biological tissues induce leaflet flutter in aortic heart valve replacements.

“The ability to look at this phenomenon in-silico (on a computer) for the first time allows us to determine how the leaflets undergo fatigue and assess what’s needed to improve their durability – new design, new materials, or both,” said Dr. Sacks.

Read the full story here.

 
Randomized Sampling Could Help Solve Billions of Equations Simultaneously

Researchers from the Oden Institute have secured funding from the National Science Foundation to advance current computational methods for solving what are known as “linear systems” of equations. Dr. Per-Gunnar Martinsson and Dr. Rachel Ward from the Department of Mathematics at UT Austin, will collaborate with researchers from Yale and Caltech to develop faster, more energy-efficient algorithms for solving large numbers of linear algebraic equations using randomized sampling methodologies. 

“Randomized sampling is in some ways analogous to techniques used for testing COVID 19,” said Dr. Rachel Ward. “When faced with 10,000 saliva samples, testing each one individually is expensive and time-consuming, especially when it is expected that only, say, one or two samples will test positive. Instead, 10,000 tests can be reduced by mixing the saliva of 100 samples and testing the saliva mixtures. This first round of testing will highlight one or two groups of 100 samples, and then individual testing can be done within these groups.”

Check out our website to learn more.

 
Peppers, Pajamas, and Pandemics -  Life In The Time of COVID-19

Lisa Gentry works in administrative support at the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences. This year she celebrates 25 years working at the University of Texas at Austin. Lisa gives a UT Austin staff member's perspective on life and work in the time of COVID-19. An enthusiastic cook, Lisa has a multitude of peppers - habañeros, scotch bonnets, shishitos, chocolate and purple bell peppers, cayenne, ghost and a variety of Korean peppers - growing in pots outside her front door. She clearly likes things spicy. 

Read the full story here.

 
 
Dr. Keshav Pingali Elected to Academia Europaea

Dr. Keshav Pingali has been elected as a Foreign Member of Academia Europaea. Founded in 1988, Academia Europaea is committed to the advancement and propagation of excellence in scholarship in the humanities, law, the economic, social, and political sciences, mathematics, medicine, and all branches of natural and technological sciences anywhere in the world for the public benefit and for the advancement of the education of the public of all ages.

It is comprised of eminent, individual scientists and scholars, covering all academic disciplines, from Council of Europe states and from other nations and is the only continent-wide Academy in Europe. Academia Europaea publishes the international journal, 'European Review.’
 
Dr. Pingali holds the W.A. “Tex” Moncrief Chair in Distributed and Grid Computing at the Oden Institute and is professor of computer science at UT Austin. He is also director of the Center for Distributed and Grid Computing. You can find more details on our website.

 
The O’Donnell Fellows

This year, the Oden Institute is fortunate to welcome four exceptionally-talented researchers as Peter O’Donnell, Jr. Postdoctoral Fellows in Computational Engineering and Sciences. These outstanding computational scientists come to us from diverse research backgrounds and will work with Oden faculty in a variety of research areas including computational hydraulics, geometric deep learning, materials engineering and reduced order modeling.  

Get better acquainted with some of the newest members of the Oden Institute community right here.  

 
 
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