Phil Isett Faculty Mathematics PMA 0236.width 600

A Q&A with Philip Isett (B.S. ’08, mathematics; B.A. ’08, economics) on the math behind fluid dynamics

The ways in which water meanders through rivers or makes its way through pipes to your kitchen sink is much more complex than you might think. Mathematicians have been trying to model the flow of water and air for centuries in a field known as fluid dynamics, but according to Philip Isett, a new assistant professor of mathematics at Caltech, the problem is incredibly challenging.

"Because fluids are ubiquitous in nature, we really have to grapple with understanding them," he says. "Fluids are hard to describe inherently because they exhibit a very chaotic and erratic kind of motion called turbulence."

Lucia Simonelli University of Texas at Austin

Lucia D. Simonelli (Ph.D. ’16, applied mathematics and statistics, and scientific computation) was awarded the 2019-20 American Mathematical Society Congressional Fellowship and is working in the office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Prior to being a Congressional Fellow, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the mathematics section at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. 

Simonelli's work has been predominantly in dynamical systems, specifically working to prove properties of parabolic flows using functional analytic techniques. She also recently co-organized the first Latin American School in Applied Mathematics held in Quito, Ecuador. The mission of the school is to foster the growth of advanced, rigorous studies and research in physical and mathematical sciences in Latin America. Specifically, the goal of the school is to highlight the applications of mathematics in other disciplines and in industry to demonstrate the usefulness of mathematics as a tool in career choice.

Steven Reich on Jeopardy

Caption: Host Alex Trebek stands with UMD mathematics doctoral student Steven Reich on the set of "Jeopardy!" Reich appeared on the October 9, 2019, episode of the show. (Photo by Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

Most Thursday nights, you can find Steven Reich and his friends from the University of Maryland’s math doctoral program out at Hyattsville’s Pizzeria Paradiso for the joint’s weekly trivia competition.

They’re good, too — most of the time, their team comes in first place, Liam Fowl said. That’s to be expected of a bunch of math nerds, he added. A few of them competed in quiz bowls in high school, and Reich played his fair share of Trivial Pursuit.

He also watched a lot of Jeopardy! growing up.

When 7:30 p.m. rolled around on October 9, 2019, Reich’s friends gathered around the television in Fowl’s apartment and tuned in to ABC. There, standing right next to Alex Trebek, was Reich.

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