University of Texas at Austin


Distinguished Researcher Award 2022 Goes to Rachel Ward

By Rebecca Riley

Published June 13, 2022

Dr. Rachel Ward

Rachel Ward has been selected as the 2022 recipient of the Peter O’Donnell Distinguished Researcher Award by the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences

This award recognizes Oden Institute core faculty who have demonstrated a sustained record of distinguished research in computational engineering and sciences. Recipients are chosen for their outstanding research record, the significant contributions they have made to the Oden Institute and its CSEM graduate program, and the distinction their work and reputation brings to the Institute and the University of Texas at Austin.

The Distinguished Researcher Award provides discretionary funds of $100,000 paid in four annual installments of $25,000 in support of its awardee’s research within the Institute.

As a professor of mathematics at UT Austin and the W.A. “Tex” Moncrief Distinguished Professor in Computational Engineering and Sciences for Data Science, Dr. Ward’s research lies broadly in the mathematics of data.

The funds from this award will significantly strengthen my research, particularly towards hosting visitors at UT Austin and towards increasing stipends and/or offering more computing resources to graduate students and postdocs.

— Rachel Ward

She is recognized for her contributions to stochastic gradient descent, compressive sensing and randomized linear embeddings. Motivated by applications in biology and in signal and image processing, her work synthesizes computational tools native to disciplines from dynamical systems to random matrix theory.

Rachel Ward joined UT Austin in 2011 from NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. She was a visiting research scientist at Facebook AI Research in 2018, was made a Von Neumann Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in 2019 and her work has been recognized by the Sloan research fellowship, the NSF CAREER award, the 2016 IMA prize in mathematics and its applications and the 2020 Simons fellowship in mathematics. Her research on enhancing state-of-the-heart randomized algorithms has also been recognized through this year's W.A. “Tex” Moncrief Grand Challenge Awards 2022.