SIAM News Blog

Prize Spotlight: L. Pamela Cook

L. Pamela Cook of the University of Delaware is the recipient of the 2018 Julian Cole Lectureship. She will deliver her Julian Cole Lecture, “Modeling of Complex Fluids: Wormlike Micellar Solutions, Polymers and Mucins,” on July 11, 2018, as part of the SIAM Annual Meeting being held July 9-13, 2018 in Portland, Oregon.

L. Pamela Cook

The Julian Cole Lectureship was established in 1999 in memory of Julian D. Cole and his work in mathematical applications to aerodynamics. The prize is awarded every four years to an individual for an outstanding contribution to the mathematical characterization and solution of a challenging problem in the physical or biological sciences, or in engineering, or for the development of mathematical methods for the solution of such problems.

The award recognizes Cook for her comprehensive mathematical modeling of the structure and dynamics of wormlike micellar solutions. Developed in close collaboration with experiment, this work has had broad influence and application in both industry and the academy, and sets a standard for modeling such multicomponent systems.

L. Pamela Cook is UNIDEL Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Delaware, where she has served as chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, as Associate Dean for Research and Planning of the College of Arts and Sciences, and currently serves as Associate Dean of Engineering for Faculty Affairs. She completed her PhD in applied mathematics at Cornell University, received a NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship to Utrecht University, and then joined the faculty at UCLA, where she became associate professor with tenure. She has held visiting positions at California Institute of Technology, the University of Maryland, and the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications and the School of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota.

Cook’s current research is on mathematical modeling and prediction of flow properties of complex fluids, especially transiently networked fluids. Her mathematical interests are in modeling, nonlinear partial differential equations, asymptotics, and perturbations; her earlier work was in transonic aerodynamics, flight near the speed of sound. Cook is an inaugural Fellow of SIAM, an Associate Fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has served as Editor-in-Chief of the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics and as Secretary, Vice President for Publications, and President of SIAM.

Q: Why are you excited about winning the prize?

A: It is an honor to be recognized by a SIAM prize, but it is especially an honor to be recognized with the Julian Cole Lectureship. While a faculty member at UCLA in the 70s, I had the privilege of collaborating with Julian on work in transonic aerodynamics. Julian had the ability to simplify a problem down to the essential elements; he also thought continuously about the problem(s). Both are admirable traits and should be emulated.

Q: Tell us a bit about the research that won you the prize?

A: My current research is on the modeling and simulation of viscoelastic fluids, particularly those composed at the mesoscale of transient networks. Examples of such fluids include wormlike micellar solutions. These long flexible “worms” break and reform continuously and are thus known as “living polymers.” These fluids can exhibit shear thickening or shear thinning under shear stress, that is, the viscosity of the fluid changes, increasing or decreasing respectively with the shear rate. They also exhibit fracture under fast extension, inhomogeneity (shear banding), and elastic recoil in shear or extensional flow.

Q: What does your research mean to the public?

A: Wormlike micellar fluids are used in oil fields as drag-reducing agents and as thickeners for personal and home care products. The physical transient linkages of wormlike micelles have similarities to those of mucins, and thus this research has implications not only for the oil and home products industry but may also have applications to health.  

Q: What does being a SIAM member mean to you?

A: As an applied mathematician, SIAM is my primary professional organization. While I do belong to and participate in more discipline-oriented organizations (such as the Society for Rheology) SIAM is where it all -- applications and mathematics -- comes together. I’ve strongly benefitted from interactions with SIAM members, from SIAM journals, and particularly from SIAM meetings and the opportunity through SIAM to be part of an inclusive multidisciplinary organization. I’ve also benefitted from SIAM through my students. They have had opportunities to begin their careers and leadership in our local SIAM Section, the SIAM Washington, D.C.-Baltimore Section; through attending SIAM meetings; through presenting at SIAM poster sessions; and later in their careers through organizing minisymposia at SIAM conferences.

Learn more about the Julian Cole Lectureship

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