University of Texas at Austin


Oden Institute Awards Ceremony 2022

By John Holden

Published May 18, 2022

All the staff, students and faculty award winners who were in attendance at the 2022 Oden Institute Awards Ceremony held on May 5 2022

The Oden Institute Annual Awards ceremony has been sorely missed in recent times. After a difficult couple of years getting through the pandemic, the prospect of celebrating our community’s achievements in person felt special. Having Oden Institute staff, faculty and students together in the Faculty Lounge of POB on May 5 2022 was a celebration in of itself.



Charlott Low celebrated 40 years of service at UT Austin in 2021.

Awards host and Institute Director, Karen Willcox, had a full schedule of awards and accolades to bestow upon community members and began the celebrations by recognizing staff who had reached service milestones in the last two years. Willcox has made no secret of her tremendous respect for university staff who are central to the success of the Institute but rarely step into the limelight. “The Oden Institute wouldn’t run without our wonderful staff, they are truly the backbone of the university. And because we couldn’t have an awards ceremony last year, between those recognized in 2021 and those recognized this year, we are recognizing a combined 165 years of service." 

Four staff members reached service milestones in 2021

Lisa Gentry, Research Assistant, 25 years.

Amy Hejl, Sr. Financial Analyst, 15 years.

Charlott Low, Assistant to Dr. J. Tinsley Oden, 40 years.

Stephanie Rodriguez, CSEM Graduate Program Administrator, 15 years.

Four staff members reached service milestones in 2022

Katherine A Brown, Senior Research Fellow Computational Hydraulics Group, 10 years. 

Jeff Early, Program Administrator for the PSAAP Program, 20 years.

Messan Quevison, Sysnet team, macOS fleet management, 15 years.

Guillerma Romero, Finance and Accounting team, 25 years



Grand Challenge Award Winners 2022 (L-R) Tom Yankeelov, Rachel Ward, Jingyi Ann Chen [Karen Willcox] and Per-Gunnar Martinsson. Absent: Graeme Henkelman.

Moncrief Grand Challenge Awards

This program provides resources to UT Austin faculty to work on Oden Institute research and academic programs related to the Grand Challenges in computational engineering and sciences. "Each year, several awards are given to faculty. In 2022, we chose five members based on their highly compelling research proposals that seek to enhance the competitiveness and international standing of the nation," said Willcox. The awards provide a stipend of up to $75,000. This year’s winners were Tom Yankeelov, Rachel Ward, Jingyi Ann Chen, Per-Gunnar Martinsson and Graeme Henkelman. Click here for a more detailed account of their research aims.  


The Peter O’Donnell Distinguished Researcher Award winner, Rachel Ward.

The Peter O’Donnell Distinguished Researcher Award

This recognizes any Oden Institute core faculty who have demonstrated a sustained record of distinguished research in computational engineering and sciences. This year's worthy recipient was Rachel Ward, Professor of Mathematics and core faculty at the Oden Institute. Dr. Ward's research lies broadly in the mathematics of data.  Motivated by applications in signal and image processing, dynamical systems and biology, her work often synthesizes tools from optimization, numerical linear algebra, dynamical systems, scientific computing, sparse approximation, random matrix theory and machine learning.

"It has been fantastic to watch Rachel's star continue to rise," said Willcox. "This is obvious from the visibility and notoriety she has earned from her peers in the external community, not to mention all the great things that she's been doing here in the Oden Institute. This is well-deserved recognition of everything that you have done and everything that you will do in the coming years. So congratulations, Rachel. Your punishment is more photos."



Carey Scholarship winner, Harrison Jin.

Carey Scholarship (Graham F. Carey Computational Science Scholarship)

To honor the important work of Professor Graham F. Carey in the computational sciences, the Oden Institute has established the Graham F. Carey Computational Science Scholarship. The $2,500 scholarship is awarded annually and gives preference to participants in the Undergraduate CSE Certificate Program and to UT students in the Moncrief Summer Internship Program.

"Congratulations to Harrison Jin, 3rd year undergraduate student, Computational Engineering, ASE/EM. Harrison is a junior third year student who has been working with Ufuk Topcu in the Autonomous Systems Group. So Harrison has an outstanding record. It was a very competitive pool of applicants this year. So congratulations." If you would like to know more, Harrison Jin was interviewed soon after he learnt of the scholarship. Check it out here


Babuška Scholarship winner, Bronson Zhou.

Babuska Scholarship (Ivo & Renata Babuška Scholarship)

In keeping with Dr. and Mrs. Babuška’s lifelong interest in encouraging the next generation of scientists and engineers, the Ivo & Renata Babuška Endowed Excellence Fund provides scholarship support to outstanding undergraduate seniors working with research groups within the Institute. Ivo's office was just down the hallway and he remains very near to our hearts because he's still part of our community. Despite being in Albuquerque he frequently dials in to be with us during seminars and other events. 

Created in 2021, the Babuška Fund was awarded for the first time at the award ceremony. The inaugural winner was Bronson Zhou, a 3rd year undergraduate student majoring in Mathematics (Honors) and Plan II Honors. Willcox noted that Bronson's track record was "outstanding" and "in keeping with the award's namesake." She then provided Bronson with some well-needed advice: "Ivo will likely want to congratulate you himself as well as grill you on every aspect of your studies. So be prepared." 

Outstanding Dissertation Award

Gopal Robert Yalla, who was not able to attend the ceremony, won this year's Outstanding Dissertation Award for his thesis entitled, “Numerical Discretization Effects in Large Eddy Simulation of Turbulence.” His story can be found here

SIAM Award

And finally, in recognition of outstanding efforts and accomplishments on behalf of the SIAM Chapter at The University of Texas at Austin Evan D. Scope Crafts, not in attendance, was this year's SIAM UT Student Chapter award winner. More details here.