Director, Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences
W. A. “Tex” Moncrief, Jr. Chair in Simulation-Based Engineering and Sciences
Peter O'Donnell, Jr. Centennial Chair in Computing Systems
Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
University of Texas at Austin
Karen E. Willcox is Director of the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences and a Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds the W. A. “Tex” Moncrief, Jr. Chair in Simulation-Based Engineering and Sciences and the Peter O'Donnell, Jr. Centennial Chair in Computing Systems. Prior to joining the Oden Institute in 2018, she spent 17 years as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she served as Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the founding Co-Director of the MIT Center for Computational Engineering, and the Associate Head of the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Willcox holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and masters and PhD degrees from MIT. Prior to becoming a professor at MIT, she worked at Boeing Phantom Works with the Blended-Wing-Body aircraft design group. Her research has produced scalable computational methods for design of next-generation engineered systems, with a particular focus on model reduction as a way to learn principled approximations from data and on multi-fidelity formulations to leverage multiple sources of uncertain information. These methods are widely applied in aircraft system design and environmental policy decision-making. Willcox is currently Co-director of the Department of Energy AEOLUS Multifaceted Mathematics Capability Center on Advances in Experimental Design, Optimal Control, and Learning for Uncertain Complex Systems. She leads an Air Force MURI on optimal design of multi-physics systems and an Air Force Data-Driven Dynamic Applications Systems project team that is developing a self-aware UAV. She has co-authored more than 90 papers in peer-reviewed journals and advised more than 50 graduate students, including 17 PhD students.
In addition to her research pursuits, Willcox is active in education innovation. She served as co-Chair of the MIT Online Education Policy Initiative, co-Chair of the 2013-2014 Institute wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education, and Chair of the MIT OpenCourseWare Faculty Advisory Board. She is a recognized innovator in the U.S. education landscape, where she is a 2015 recipient of the First in the World Department of Education grant. She continues to direct the MIT Mapping Lab, which develops technologies for the future of digital education.
Willcox is Fellow of SIAM, Fellow of AIAA, and member of ASEE and ASME. She has served in multiple leadership positions within AIAA and SIAM, including leadership roles in the SIAM Activity Group on Computational Science and Engineering and in the AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Technical Committee. She is Section Editor of SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing and Associate Editor of AIAA Journal. She is a current member of the National Academies Board on Mathematical Sciences and Analytics, and has served on four National Academies studies. In 2017, she was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).