Irene Gamba

Anyone who swore that math class would never matter in the real world needs to talk to Irene Gamba. The mathematics professor and core member at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) is showing just how relevant math can be. Her work is helping ICES researchers analyze everything from spacecraft re-entry to how two people reach an agreement.

ICES researchers use computational science and engineering to help them solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, but first someone has to create the complex mathematical models behind the supercomputer programs. Enter Gamba and her students.

“The computer is not going to do anything we don’t tell it to do,” said Gamba, who holds the W. A. “Tex” Moncrief, Jr. Chair in Computational Engineering and Sciences.

Gamba’s work, with all its real-world applications, involves concepts and terms that would perplex most people. Take, for example, one of her research interests: nonlinear analysis and numerical methods for charged particle transport modeling at quantum, kinetic and fluid levels.

If that sounds confusing, that’s OK. UT has brilliant minds like Gamba to understand such concepts, make real-world connections and teach others how to do the same.

“Professor Gamba is one of the world’s leading applied and computational mathematicians,” ICES Director Tinsley Oden said. “Her inspiring energy and dedication to students and to research has greatly benefited society.”

To Gamba, teaching and research are inextricably linked.

“I view teaching as oxygen,” she said. “I need students to ensure a stronger research program.”