University of Texas at Austin

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Profile Dr. Joshua Leveillee

By John Holden

Published Oct. 19, 2020

The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Joshua Leveillee.

The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Joshua Leveillee, explains his research expertise and why the Oden institute is the best place to help him move forward in his career.

I am currently an O’Donnell Postdoctoral Fellow at the Oden Institute working with Dr. Feliciano Giustino. Before arriving here, I completed my Ph.D. in computational materials science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with Professor Andre Schleife. My research focuses on the computational prediction of materials physics from first principles. Specifically, I use computational quantum-mechanical methods to develop a deeper understanding of the finite-temperature electronic and optical properties of high conductivity topological semi-metals and perovskite-based solar cells.

The simulation methods employed in my work, namely many-body perturbation theory, require massively parallel computational architectures to predict finite-temperature properties of modern complex materials. In revealing the underlying mechanisms behind how these materials function, I aim to design future energy harvesting and transporting materials that employ similar fundamental physics.My decision to apply to the Oden Institute as a post-doctoral researcher centered around working with Dr. Giustino, who is a leading scholar in the field of finite-temperature materials modeling and electron-phonon coupling physics. Additionally, I sought the interdisciplinary research environment that Oden Institute offered in order to expand my knowledge and collaboration beyond materials physics towards a wide array of advanced computational methods.

What makes the Oden Institute’s interdisciplinary environment unique from others is the openness of the research community and active exchange of academic ideas.

What makes the Oden Institute’s interdisciplinary environment unique from others is the openness of the research community and active exchange of academic ideas, both through meeting other researchers and through the Oden Institute seminars. Even though a large portion of my time here has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oden Institute’s seminars have continued to provide these fundamentally important learning opportunities for myself and the other researchers.

Additionally, the Institute's staff has supported post-doctoral researchers by organizing online meetups and a chat channel to build a close community despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic. From a research perspective, the most exciting opportunity that I have had with the Oden Institute is the chance to utilize the computers at, and work closely with, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at UT Austin. The relationship between TACC and the Oden Institute is both strong and long-standing, providing us with an array of highly parallel computational resources. This includes the new Frontera system that is among the world’s top 10 most powerful computers. My research requires extensive computer power and time to make high accuracy predictions of materials properties. The close collaboration between TACC and the Oden Institute is crucial to my work.

For the next steps in my research career, I would like to try for a tenure track faculty position at a top research institution. My postdoctoral fellowship at the Oden Institute at UT Austin is providing me with the professional experience to grow my research skills and scope of expertise. So I am already feeling well prepared for the next steps in my academic career. Applications for the 2021-2022 Fellowship are open and will run to December 15 2020. More details can be found on the Oden website.