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Bell, Colella Honored for Contributions to Computational Science, Engineering

June 17, 2003

John B. Bell and Phillip Colella, applied mathematicians at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have been named as co-recipients of the 2003 SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science and Engineering, awarded by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

According to SIAM President Mac Hyman, the prize “is awarded in the area of computational science in recognition of outstanding contributions to the development and use of mathematical and computational tools and methods for the solution of science and engineering problems.” This is the first year the prize, which will be presented Tuesday, June 17, has been awarded.

Algorithms developed by Bell, Colella and their research groups at Berkeley Lab are used for studying complex problems arising in fluid mechanics and computational physics. The methodology they have developed has been applied in such diverse areas as shock physics, turbulence, astrophysics, flow in porous media and combustion.

Much of their research is funded through DOE’s Office of Science and its Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) and Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) programs.

“The development of applied numerical algorithms is critical to advancing scientific research in areas that are at the heart of the Office of Science mission,” said Raymond L. Orbach, Director of DOE’s Office of Science. “This recognition of Doctors Bell and Colella for their important applied mathematics contributions is a well-deserved honor, and we are proud to have them devoting their talents to tackling problems of global significance.”

One of the current projects in the Center for Computational Sciences and Engineering led by Bell focuses on three-dimensional simulations of turbulent methane combustion. The goal of these simulations is to model turbulence-chemistry interactions to predict not only the basic energetics of the flame but also to quantify the detailed chemical behavior within the flame. Results of these simulations, to be presented at an international conference this summer, are the first fully resolved simulations of methane combustion with comprehensive chemistry for a laboratory-scale flame. In short, these computational simulations provide an unprecedented view of the detailed processes occurring in methane combustion.

The principal focus of Colella's current work is the development of new simulation software tools for multiscale problems in science and engineering. These tools are based on finite-difference methods on structured grids combined with block-structured adaptive mesh refinement, and Cartesian grid embedded boundary methods for complex geometries. The target applications include non-ideal magnetohydrodynamics problems arising in magnetic fusion; beam dynamics in accelerator design problems; simulation of gas jets in laser-driven plasma-wakefield accelerators; multiphase flow in microgravity environments; geophysical and environmental fluid mechanics; and detailed spatial modeling of microbes. Much of this software is being developed as part of the Applied Differential Equations Integrated Software Infrastructure Center (APDEC) sponsored by DOE's SciDAC program. Colella is the project leader for APDEC.

“This recognition by their fellow applied mathematicians is highly merited and reflects John and Phil's sustained leadership and manifold contributions to computational science and engineering,” said Alan Laub, director of the SciDAC program.

Bell and Colella and their staff have also created libraries of computational tools based on adaptive mesh refinement, or AMR.

Bell and Colella were presented with the prize on Tuesday, June 17, at the 2003 SIAM Annual Meeting to be held jointly with the Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society’s annual meeting in Montreal, Canada.

About the Recipients

John Bell received his B.S. (1975) degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his M.S. (1977) and Ph.D. (1979) degrees from Cornell University, all in mathematics. He is currently a Senior Staff Scientist and Group Leader for the Center for Computational Sciences and Engineering at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Prior to joining LBNL, he held positions at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Exxon Production Research and the Naval Surface Weapons Center. Bell’s research focuses on the development and analysis of numerical methods for partial differential equations arising in science and engineering. He has made contributions in the areas of finite difference methods, numerical methods for low Mach number flows, adaptive mesh refinement, interface tracking and parallel computing. He has also worked on the application of these numerical methods to problems from a broad range of fields including combustion, shock physics, seismology, flow in porous media and astrophysics.

Phillip Colella received his A.B. (1974), M.A. (1976)  and Ph.D. (1979) degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, all in applied mathematics. Has been a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and from 1989 to 1995 was a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of California at Berkeley. He is currently a Senior Mathematician and Group Leader for the Applied Numerical Algorithms Group in the Computational Research Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His research has been in the area of numerical methods for partial differential equations, with contributions in high-resolution finite-difference methods, adaptive mesh refinement, volume-of-fluid methods for irregular boundaries, and programming language and library design for parallel scientific computing. He has also applied numerical methods in a variety of scientific and engineering fields, including shock dynamics, low-Mach number and incompressible flows, combustion, porous media flows, and astrophysical flows.

About Berkeley Lab

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 16 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

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