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Building Community in Science: Andrés Galindo Olarte

By Aira Balasubramanian

Published Nov. 30, 2023

Andrés Galindo Olarte

Andrés Galindo Olarte embraces change with a familiarity that extends across borders and research domains. Olarte, who is among the newest cohort of Peter O’Donnell Jr. Postdoctoral Fellows, is an expert in navigating transitions with a focus on uncovering joy, community, and opportunity.

Olarte focused his Ph.D. research on computational kinetic equations at Michigan State University with Yingda Cheng. While his undergraduate background had centered around finding the existence of solutions for partial differential equations, he was motivated to pivot his research into more applied work that still heavily utilized theoretical analysis. “You need to be flexible and open to all the opportunities life throws at you,” Olarte noted. “The coding work can be a little hard for me, but it’s always very satisfying to see theoretical and computational results interplay and inform each other.”

 

It’s always very satisfying to see theoretical and computational results interplay and inform each other.

— Andrés Galindo Olarte

Now, as a postdoctoral researcher at the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, he works with Irene Gamba, lead of the Applied Mathematics Group, to develop and analyze numerical methods for solving kinetic equations from plasma physics, which explores the dynamics of large interacting particle systems. “It’s very stimulating,” Olarte shared, adding that the work is a chance to blend his expertise in rigorous mathematics with the opportunity to “stretch my coding skills and see my research in action.” 

Olarte’s passion for research is mirrored in his efforts to build community and advocate for the international student community. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, he recognized many of the unique difficulties international students from Latin America may face after he came to the United States for his Ph.D program. “It was important to create a space where Latin American students felt listened to and understood,” he shared, adding that “The support system a community provides positively impacts every part of your life, including your job as a researcher.” Now, in his first year in Austin, Olarte is finding his connections once again as he grows in his role here at the Oden Institute. 

I am passionate about building community and helping people feel part of one.

— Andrés Galindo Olarte

“Building community and making people feel like a part of one” forms the core tenet of how Olarte hopes to make an impact, personally and professionally. As he continues to contribute to the body of research surrounding computational kinetics equations, the postdoc is also looking forward to taking on mentorship roles in the future as a professor, and hopes to emphasize that balance is key in any research career. “The advice of having fun and finding non-research interests that fulfill you have guided me throughout my career,” he shared. “That balance is always reflected in your work." 

Through his work, Olarte exemplifies the critical skill of pushing boundaries to create safe spaces for uninhibited scientific exploration, support, and growth. 

O'Donnell Fellows perform interdisciplinary research with exceptional faculty in areas such as computational mechanics and computational oncology, among many others. They also have the opportunity to participate in external collaborations and access world-class computational tools at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, such as Frontera, one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers and the fastest supercomputer on a university campus. Applications are accepted September – December and can be accessed here (PDF file).