SIAM News Blog

SIAM Texas-Louisiana Section Holds Fourth Annual Meeting

By Yifei Lou

Former SIAM President Lisa Fauci of Tulane University speaks during dinner at the 4th Annual Meeting of the SIAM Texas-Louisiana Section. Photo courtesy of Yifei Lou.
The SIAM Texas-Louisiana Section (SIAM TX-LA) recently held its fourth annual meeting (TXLA21) in South Padre Island, Texas. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s (UTRGV) College of Sciences and School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences hosted the three-day conference, which took place in early November 2021. SIAM contributions provided travel support for three plenary speakers, 21 travel awards for undergraduate/graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and cash prizes for outstanding posters. The meeting attracted an impressive 275 attendees.

The conference agenda consisted of a career panel discussion, three plenary lectures, a poster session, and more than 50 minisymposia. Topics addressed a wide spectrum of applications that included biomedicine, life and social sciences, image processing, and data science. Presenters reported on cutting-edge methodologies and computational algorithms such as algebraic and geometric approaches, model order reduction, finite element methods, and deep learning. The meeting was an engaging in-person affair; in fact, it was the first in-person conference for many participants since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first special event was a career panel with panelists Cristina Villalobos, associate dean of UTRGV’s College of Science; Victoria Huynh, senior director in the Science and Research Department at PROS; and Michael Chertkov, chair of the Program in Applied Mathematics at the University of Arizona. The career panel attracted a large number of students and early-career researchers who sought to broaden their career opportunities and hone the necessary skill sets to achieve their goals.

Lisa Fauci of Tulane University delivered a plenary lecture titled “Buckling, Mixing, Swimming, Dissolving: Adventures with Helices at the Microscale” that was open to the public. Fauci, who was the SIAM Past President at the time of the meeting, also gave a speech during the conference dinner.

A lively poster session in the hotel lobby at the 4th Annual Meeting of the SIAM Texas-Louisiana Section. Photo courtesy of Kristina Vatcheva.
Rachel Ward of the University of Texas at Austin and Alejandro Aceves of Southern Methodist University presented the other two plenary lectures. Ward spoke about “Data-driven Forecasting in Complex Systems: A Tale of Two Approaches Using Kernels and Random Projections,” and Aceves provided a whirlwind tour of the history of dynamical systems approaches for climate change models that culminated in his own recent contributions. Both talks engaged their audiences and stimulated a series of interesting questions and discussions.

Students, postdoctoral researchers, and professors displayed over 40 posters during the poster session. Three graduate students went home with monetary awards for outstanding posters: Madhu Gupta of the University of Texas at Arlington received first place, Ziheng Chen of the University of Texas at Austin received second place, and Amir Targholizadeh of UTRGV received third place. Kaylee Terrell and Dashon Mitchell of Tarleton State University won the prize for the best undergraduate poster.

The conference organizing committee consisted of a local UTRGV group, the SIAM TX-LA section officers, and the section’s district liaisons. The local UTRGV Organizing Committee was chaired by Vesselin Vatchev and included Dambaru Bhatta, Baofeng Feng, Eleftherios Gkioulekas, Kristen Hallas, Zhijun Qiao, and Kristina Vatcheva. TXLA21 received positive feedback from participants, who praised the choice of venue, broad scientific program, and safety precautions in light of COVID-19. Its success has encouraged the SIAM TX-LA section officers and liaisons to begin planning for the fifth annual meeting in 2022.

Yifei Lou is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. She currently serves as secretary of the SIAM Texas-Louisiana Section.

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