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11.01.17 - Professor Jan S. Hesthaven, director of EPFL’s Chair of Computational Mathematics and Simulation Science, has been appointed as the new Dean of the School of Basic Sciences.

On January 9, Professor Jan S. Hesthaven was officially named Dean of EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences, succeeding Professor Thomas Rizzo who has served in the position for over twelve years. Professor Hesthaven joined EPFL in 2013 as the Chair of Computational Mathematics and Simulation Science, with a research focus on the development, analyses, and application of high-order accurate computational methods for time-dependent partial differential equations. Applications include problems in electromagnetics, plasma physics, geoscience and cosmology and relies on the use of parallel computing and GPU-accelerated computing and research topics such as uncertainty quantification and reduced order modeling.

Professor Hesthaven received a Master in Computational Physics from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in August 1991, including a six months research internship at the experimental fusion device Joint European Torus (JET), based in Culham, UK.

After his master's, Professor Hesthaven joined the DTU’s Risø National Laboratory with a fellowship for a PhD in Numerical Analysis. During his studies, he had extensive stays the Division of Applied Mathematics at Brown University and in Department of Mathematics and Statistics at University of New Mexico. 

Having received his PhD in 1995, Professor Hesthaven joined Brown University, where he was awarded an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Advanced Scientific Computing, and was appointed Visiting Assistant Professor in the Division of Applied Mathematics.

In 1999, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics at Brown, receiving a number of fellowships in the following years, including an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award, and appointed as Manning Assistant Professorship. In 2003, Professor Hesthaven received tenure, and was awarded the Philip J. Bray Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Sciences, which is the highest award given for teaching excellence in the sciences at Brown University. He was promoted to Professor of Applied Mathematics in 2005.

The following years were full of successes and responsibilities: Between 2006-2013, Professor Hesthaven served as the Founding Director of the Center for Computation and Visualization at Brown, and his alma mater, DTU, appointed him as Adjunct Professor in 2007. Two years later DTU awarded him the Doctor Technices, which is the highest academic distinction awarded based on “substantial and lasting contributions that has helped to move the research area forward and penetrated into applications”. Between 2010-2013, Professor Hesthaven served as the founding Deputy Director of the NSF’s Institute of Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics, established at Brown University in 2010.

In 2013, having spent the bulk of academic career at Brown University, Professor Hesthaven joined EPFL, searching for new challenges to pursue. He joined the Mathematics Institute of Computational Science and Engineering (MATHICSE) where he was appointed in his current position as Chair of Computational Mathematics and Simulation Science. In 2014, he became the founding Director of EPFL’s new unit, Scientific IT and Application Support (SCITAS), which supports research in high-performance computing across the campus. In the same year, he was elected as fellow of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

"The School of Basic Sciences (FSB) is a cornerstone in all facets of research, education, and innovation across EPFL”, says Professor Hesthaven. “Ensuring and growing the strength and reputation of FSB, both inside and outside of EPFL, is clearly a first priority of mine. A primary role of my position as Dean of FSB is to enable its remarkable faculty, staff, and students to continue to excel and push the boundaries of science and engineering. However, I will also work to ensure that FSB plays a central role in emerging activities and interdisciplinary initiatives to expand its impact and visibility, nationally and internationally. I am both humbled and honored to be given this opportunity, and I very much look forward to this new challenge.”

Professor Hesthaven will offcially commence as Dean on February 1, 2017.

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