Texas Tech University

Grant Funds at Work

Math Professors Awarded More Than $1 Million in Research Grants

9.8.2021 | College of Arts & Sciences

During the summer of 2021, five professors from the Department of Mathematics & Statistics were awarded a total of more than $1 million in research grants: $1,022,869 to be exact.

Professor and chair Magdalena Toda says it's a first for her department; and the figure is strictly for new research grants. Existing and continuing funds are not counted in this sum.

Three of the professors received grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and two received funding from other sources.

From the NSF

Wei Guo

TTU math professor Wei GuoWei Guo, an assistant professor, was awarded $237,111 as the sole PI (principal investigator) for the research project “Adaptive High Order Low-Rank Tensor Methods for High-Dimensional Partial Differential Equations with Application to Kinetic Simulations.” The funding from the NSF will support Guo's project to develop a novel computational framework for simulating high-dimensional kinetic models with high order accuracy, numerical stability, and manageable cost.

Guo explains that kinetic models find a wide range of applications in science and engineering. One celebrated example, he says, is the Vlasov-Maxwell system that describes the dynamics of a collisionless plasma. 

The long-standing challenge for kinetic simulations is the curse of dimensionality and the associated huge computational and storage costs. Guo's project will attempt to overcome that and other challenges by developing a novel computational framework for kinetic simulations. 

His grant, which runs from August 2021 through August 2024, also will support one graduate student during each year of the project.

Hung Tran

TTU math professor Hung TranHung Tran, an assistant professor, was awarded $211,917 as the sole PI for the research project “Geometry of Surfaces and Four-Dimensional Manifolds.” The funding from NSF will explore critical points of natural geometric functionals, particularly in the fields of minimal surfaces with boundaries and four-dimensional manifolds.

Tran describes how these concepts can be seen by dipping a wireframe into a soap solution, forming a soap film, which is an example of a minimal surface. In a similar way, Tran says, the world around us can be modeled as a four-dimensional manifold with three spatial directions and one time direction. Thus, Tran's advancements in this area can be put to use in physics, biology, and applied sciences.

His grant, which runs from August 2021 through July 2024, also includes the mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students and the organization of a mini school aimed at broadening the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

Amanda Laubmeier

TTU math professor Amanda LaubmeierAmanda Laubmeier, an assistant professor, was awarded $192,908 as the sole PI for the research project “LEAPS-MPS: Predator Competition in Systems with Seasonal Birth.” The funding from the NSF will support Laubmeier's project to develop a hybrid mathematical framework that will describe disparate links between ecosystem processes. 

Laubmeier explains that in many ecosystems, seasonal processes are experienced as sudden events, disrupting continuous processes. These disparate processes are closely linked, for example when resource consumption (a continuous behavior) determines reproductive capacity (a seasonal event). 

Describing the links between these processes is fundamental to long-term descriptions of seasonal ecosystems. And in turn, says Laubmeier, long-term models are necessary for ecological forecasts, with seasonal behavior especially relevant for incorporating sensitivities to annual climate. Hybrid models are therefore broadly applicable to a range of ecological problems—such as describing the competition between predatory insects that consume pests in agricultural ecosystem, with attention to how changing temperatures affect pest control.  

Her grant, which runs from October 2021 through September 2023, also allocates $40,000 for graduate students to conduct research and develop resources for underrepresented students at TTU."

From Other Sources

Dimitri Volchenkov

TTU math professor Dimitri VolchenkovDimitri Volchenkov, an associate professor, was awarded $308,178 as the PI on a collaborative project that includes Dy Le of TTU's Institute for Materials Manufacturing and Sustainment; AVX Aircraft Company; and Pennsylvania State University.

Katharine Long

TTU math professor Katharine LongKatharine Long, an associate professor, was awarded $72,755 for the research project “XTEMP - Infrared Based Technology.”