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The 2018 Professor De Winter Award for outstanding female talent was given to Kathrin Smetana, Assistant Professor at the UT’s Department of Applied Mathematics. She received the prize during today’s Dies Natalis ceremony in the Waaier.  

The award is annually given to a female academic as a recognition of excellent research and an incentive to pursue a scientific career. Kathrin Smetana was selected as this year’s winner based on her article ‘Randomized local model order reduction’, which was published in the SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing.

Smetana’s research focuses on Numerical Analysis and the development of numerical methods. ‘We need multiscale modeling to predict the behavior of various phenomena such as weather or the effect of earthquakes,’ the scientist explains. ‘Many of these problems can be well described by partial differential equations but computing an approximation of the solutions of those equations can take hours or even days. If you would like to have a quick answer, that is where my research comes into play.’ In the prize-winning paper Smetana derives simplified mathematical models that are able to provide such answers within seconds or minutes – with a minimal loss of accuracy.

This new approach to model order reduction can be used in a wide range of applications. ‘Together with researchers from the Utrecht University we received a NWO funding for a project focused on monitoring and prediction of seismicity in the Groningen gas field,’ says Smetana. ‘Moreover, the method could be applied in civil engineering for monitoring the safety of structures, the design of aircrafts or cars.’

Smetana’s research has been attracting attention in her field and the scientist has been invited to give a couple of keynote speeches at conferences. She is currently on a research visit in the US and plans to push her research on ‘Randomized local model order reduction’ even further by addressing the problem in infinite dimensions.