University of Texas at Austin


New CSEM Student Representatives Talk Student Life

By Rebecca Riley

Published Nov. 28, 2022

2022-2023 Student Representatives (clockwise) Xin Tang, Sebastian Henao-Garcia, Casey Stowers, and Eugene Park

Each autumn, students in the Computational Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (CSEM) graduate program at the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences elect four representatives to lead the programs and activities that take place throughout the year. 

This year’s CSEM Student Reps have ostensibly nothing in common. 

From their research areas of interest… 

“I work in Computational Oncology,” said Recruitment Chair Casey Stowers. “I’m especially interested in obtaining early predictions of breast cancer patient response to therapy using machine learning and PDE based models.”

“My research area of interest is in using deep learning models for accelerating ab initio molecular dynamics simulations in solid-state physics,” said Social Chair Eugene Park

“I'm interested in contributing towards laying down the foundations for building predictive digital twins for space systems, which are a key component for designing and operating the next generation of spacecraft,” said Ombudsperson Sebastian Henao-Garcia

“I’m interested in optimizing power grid structure under uncertainties,” said Student-Faculty Engagement Chair Xin Tang

… to what brought them to the Oden Institute, the four gave wildly different answers to every question posed to them, except one: 


What is student life like at the Oden Institute?


“It often surprises me how things could work so cooperatively here,” admitted Xin.  “But, as everyone comes in with diverse backgrounds and works in different directions, you learn about a lot of interesting things.” 

“You get to meet people from very diverse backgrounds, and so there's always something you can learn from and something you can teach to one another,” said Eugene. 

“It's a lot of fun,” Casey chimed in. “Since we collaborate with so many other departments, we get to have friends and research collaborators in so many different areas. As the recruitment chair, I want to be able to match prospective and current students with similar research interests - so it's been important to try to get to know people in every area.”

“Interacting with such an intellectually diverse community has been amazing,” said Sebastian. “I'm constantly in awe of how we all sit in the same seminar room and yet look at the presentations through such different lenses based on our application areas.”

I'm constantly in awe of how we all sit in the same seminar room and yet look at the presentations through such different lenses based on our application areas.

— - Sebastian Henao-Garcia

Just as the Oden Institute forges many disciplines into one mission of multidisciplinary research, its Student Representatives further that mission by empowering Oden Institute students.  

Together, Casey, Eugene, Sebastian, and Xin share the responsibilities of bringing students’ concerns to the Graduate Studies Committee, arranging student social events, fostering faculty-student engagement, and assisting with graduate recruitment. 

Getting involved in student organization and leadership groups like the CSEM Student Representatives is an important aspect of the Oden Institute experience – providing opportunities to make and strengthen connections with peers and their faculty from twenty-three academic departments spanning five different schools and colleges. 

As Casey put it, “The main thing I've learned as a Student Rep is the importance of getting to know as many people as possible.”

Graduate students can find and explore opportunities here.