‘For Distinguished Service to the Profession’
UCSB professor Linda Petzold receives recognition from the Society for Industrial and Applied
(Santa Barbara, Calif.) — How does one fluid interact with another fluid? How do
neurons relay signals in a brain with interrupted function? How can we choose structural
materials to withstand different kinds of stress?
These questions, and many others, are the complex real-world kinds of problems
that can be solved with the help of computational science and applied mathematics, which
are closely related fields that study, model, simulate and predict behaviors and outcomes in
complicated and multidimensional situations. They are part of the backbone of many
modern data-intensive research projects and developments, encompassing a variety of
problems, from scientific to social.
For her ongoing advocacy for computational science and applied mathematics, UC
Santa Barbara professor Linda Petzold has been awarded the Society for Industrial and
Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Prize for Distinguished Service to the Profession. Petzold, a
professor in both the departments of Mechanical Engineering and of Computer Science,
was recognized “for her strong, long-time advocacy for computational science and applied
mathematics and for her role in molding national policy in research and education in these
multidisciplinary fields.” She was recognized at the society’s annual meeting in Boston in
“It has been my dream to see computational science and applied mathematics grow
and flourish as a research discipline and to gain the recognition that it deserves for
providing the computational and mathematical infrastructure that underlies so many
technological advances and scientific discoveries,” she said. “And it has been my honor to
have been in a position to accelerate this process.”
Petzold’s research has spanned many fields and an array of interesting problems,
such as how the mammalian brain re-synchronizes after a disruption to its circadian
rhythm; or how opinion flow unfolds over time in social networks such as Facebook and
Twitter. Other research has covered how certain materials can be combined for structural
toughness; studied the biology of post-traumatic stress disorder; and investigated methods
by which biomarkers for breast cancer may be identified.
According to SIAM, “her efforts have profoundly influenced the high status in which
contemporary computational science and applied mathematics are held worldwide.”
“We are proud to have Linda among our faculty and of her accomplishments as a
researcher and educator,” said Ambuj Singh, chair of the Department of Computer Science.
“She has been an advocate and a leader of computational sciences for a long time. She truly
deserves this honor.”
Petzold earned her Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois in 1978.
In addition to SIAM, she is a member of numerous prestigious organizations, including the
U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the
American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Association for the
Advancement of Science. Petzold was the inaugural recipient of both the J. H. Wilkinson
Prize for Numerical Software and the Association for Women in Mathematics-SIAM Sonia
Kovalevsky Lecture. She also has received SIAM’s Germund Dahlquist Prize and the
SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science & Engineering. In addition, Petzold was named
UCSB’s Faculty Research Lecturer in 2011. This is the highest honor bestowed by the
university on one of its faculty members.