University of Texas at Austin


CSEM Student Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

By John Holden

Published April 21, 2022

Casey Stowers

Casey Stowers is a second year CSEM student at the Oden Institute. She has just been awarded a coveted National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP), that will provide three years of funding ($34,000 stipend and $12,000 for the cost of education each year).

She has already gained an impressive amount of experience - so early in her academic career - across a variety of subject areas and institutions. This has instilled in Stowers an appreciation for the value of interdisciplinary research and was also a big part of her decision to join the Oden Institute. 

“That’s also one of the reasons why I have always been drawn to computational science – because it has allowed me to work in so many different application areas,” said Stowers.

Computational science is unique in that progress in one area of application – whether its aerospace engineering, geosciences or medicine – can often lead to progress across the board. Because the mathematical modeling techniques are frequently applicable in other research areas.

During her undergraduate degree Stowers worked on reconstructive skin surgery modeling at Purdue University. She was also a computing intern for two summers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL) working on deep learning models for optics inspection at the National Ignition Facility.


Casey Stowers presenting her poster on research from the Oncology Modeling Group at the Oden Institute's recent Open House event.

At the Oden Institute Stowers is working with Tom Yankeelov in the Center for Computational Oncology where she is exploring methods for incorporating genetic data into a multi-scale mathematical model of tumor growth designed to predict the response of breast cancer patients to neoadjuvant therapy. A second year CSEM PhD student, Stowers was focused on classes and preliminary exams. This year, however, she has been able to focus more on research.

“The ability to predict the response of cancer patients could allow for intervention and therapy optimization for the individual patient, which would limit their exposure to toxicities associated with unsuccessful therapies,” she said.

The research has wider implications for computational science generally. “This project is impactful for any areas where you have limited data and/or data that can be difficult to connect to underlying physical processes, making it difficult to model,” she explained.  

Stowers has a bright future and while she has ideas on what’s next, she is keeping her options open.   “After finishing my PhD, I would like to work at a national lab or in industry,” she said.

In high school she lived in Illinois, between Argonne National Lab and Fermilab, the national particle physics and accelerator laboratory. “I was able to participate in research at Argonne and attend quite a few talks at Fermilab.

“Between that and interning at LLNL, I've had a lot of great experiences at national labs and am very interested in working at one again in the future. I do not have any specific industry experience yet, but I am open to it as a career option.”