Upcoming PICS Colloquium Speakers

Through the spring and fall semesters, the Penn Institute for Computational Science (in conjunction with AMCS) will invite speakers from a wide array of disciplines to come to the University of Pennsylvania and discuss their research with faculty and students in weekly colloquium. These colloquium are a way for scholars and experts to show how they use computational science in their research.


Yoichiro Mori – University of Pennsylvania & the University of Minnesota

Visiting Professor – Calabi-Simons Chair in Mathematics and Biology and the Graduate Group in Applied Mathematics and Computational Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

When: January 31st, 2020 from 2:00 – 3:00

Where: PICS 534

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Title: Forthcoming

Abstract: Forthcoming

Bio: Forthcoming


Sam Schoenholz – Google Brain

Senior Research Scientist

When: February 28th, 2020 from 2:00 – 3:00

Where: PICS 534

Title: Forthcoming

Abstract: Forthcoming

Bio: Sam is a Senior Research Scientist at Google Brain. His research focuses on understanding neural networks using techniques from statistical physics, using machine learning to do science, and exploring differentiable programming by writing differentiable software. He started at Google through the Google Brain (now Google AI) residency program.

Sam received his PhD in Physics working with Andrea Liu at the University of Pennsylvania. His graduate work focused on understanding the behavior of disordered solids and glassy liquids from their structure using machine learning.


Cesar de la Fuente – University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Presidential Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Microbiology and Bioengineering

When: February 28th, 2020 from 2:00 – 3:00

Where: PICS 534

Title: Towards Computer-Made Antibiotics

Abstract: Until now, the natural world has supplied us with antibiotics. Bacteria, however, are increasingly resistant to these drugs. The next generation of antibiotics will likely come not from nature but from computer-based discovery. Working at the forefront of this development, I seek to harness computational power to find molecules with antibacterial activity. I use synthetic biology and computational tools to determine features contributing to this activity and train computers to find— or design— candidate molecules and tweak their structures virtually. Experimentation is reserved for validating computer predictions, saving time, labor, and expense. With machine-based molecular discovery, I explore proteins and peptides as engineering scaffolds. My approaches diversify proteins, such as host defense peptides (HDPs), beyond their natural variation. For example, to increase their antimicrobial properties, we trained a computer to execute a fitness function that selects for structures that interact with bacterial membranes, thereby converting several HDPs into the first artificial antimicrobials that kill bacteria both in vitro and in animals. By investigating these exciting possibilities, I aim to build machine-made antibiotics to combat infectious diseases and develop clinical applications for autonomously generated synthetic molecules. Computer-made drugs may help to replenish our arsenal of effective drugs and outpace the evolution of antibiotic resistance.

Bio: César de la Fuente, Ph.D. is a Presidential Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is leading the Machine Biology Group to integrate synthetic biology, microbiology, and AI. Prof. de la Fuente seeks to expand nature’s repertoire to build novel synthetic molecular tools and devise therapies that nature has not previously discovered. The Machine Biology Group aims to develop computer-made tools and medicines that will replenish our current antibiotic arsenal.

Prof. de la Fuente was named a Boston Latino 30 Under 30, a 2018 Wunderkind by STAT News, a Top 10 Under 40 of 2019 by GEN, a Top 10 MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35 (Spain), and is a recipient of the 2019 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Young Investigator Award. He has also been recognized by MIT Technology Review in 2019 as one of the world’s top innovators for “digitizing evolution to make better antibiotics”. In 2019, de la Fuente was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Langer Prize. His scientific discoveries have yielded over 70 peer-reviewed publications and multiple patents.

Pronouns: He/Him/His


Ivan Bermejo-Moreno – University of Southern California, Viterbi School of Engineering

Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

When: March 20th, 2020 from 2:00 – 3:00

Where: PICS 534

Title: Forthcoming

Abstract: Forthcoming

Bio: Ivan Bermejo-Moreno received his Ph.D. in aeronautics (2008) from the California Institute of Technology. Afterwards, he held a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Center for Turbulence Research, Stanford University from 2009-2014. He joined the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Southern California in 2015. His research combines numerical methods, physical modeling and high performance computing for the simulation and analysis of turbulent fluid flows involving multi-physics phenomena. He is a recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship, the Rolf D. Buhler Memorial Award, the William F. Ballhaus Prize and the Hans G. Hornung Prize.

Pronouns: He/Him/His


Francesco Paesani – University of California, San Diego, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Chair of the Theoretical Chemistry Subdivision of the American Chemical Society

When: April 3rd, 2020 from 2:00 – 3:00

Where: PICS 534

Title: Forthcoming

Abstract: Forthcoming

Bio: Francesco Paesani received his M.S. in Chemistry (1996) and Ph.D. in Theoretical Physical Chemistry (2000) from the University of Rome ‘‘La Sapienza’’ (Italy). During his graduate studies, he worked on the extension of density functional theory (DFT) to the treatment of van der Waals interactions and developed the first version of the DFT+DISP approach, which was later popularized as DFT-D, to study weakly interacting systems. After graduation, Francesco joined the group of Prof. Whaley (University of California, Berkeley) as a postdoctoral fellow to study quantum fluids, with a specific focus on the emergence of superfluidity in He4 and H2 clusters. He then moved for a second postdoc to the group of Prof. Greg Voth (University of Utah) to work on the development of new methods to model quantum dynamics in condensed-phase systems.

In 2009 Francesco joined the Faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, where is currently a Professor. His group research focuses on the development, implementation, and application of new theoretical and computational methodologies at the intersection of chemistry, physics, and computer science for molecular simulations of aqueous systems and porous materials, with chemical and spectroscopic accuracy. Francesco received the OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from the American Chemical Society in 2014, the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in 2015, and the Early Career Award in Theoretical Chemistry from the American Chemical Society in 2016.


Igor Mezić – University of California, Santa Barbara, School of Engineering

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

When: April 17th, 2020 from 2:00 – 3:00

Where: PICS 534

Title: Forthcoming

Abstract: Forthcoming

Bio: Dr. Mezic works on operator-theoretic methods in nonlinear dynamical systems and control theory and their applications in fluid dynamics, energy efficient design and operations and complex systems dynamics.

He completed his Dipl. Ing. in Mechanical Engineering in 1990 at the University of Rijeka, Croatia and his Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Mezic was a postdoctoral researcher at the Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick, UK in 1994-95. From 1995 to 1999 he was a member of Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he is currently a Professor.

From 2000-2001 he worked as an Associate Professor at Harvard University in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He also won the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, NSF CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and the George S. Axelby Outstanding Paper Award on “Control of Mixing” from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He also won the United Technologies Senior Vice President award for Science and Technology Special Achievement Prize in 2007. He was an Editor of Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Mechanics and SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization.

Dr. Mezic is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), Fellow of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), the Director of the Center for Energy Efficient Design and Head of Buildings and Design Solutions Group at the Institute for Energy Efficiency at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Pronouns: He/Him/His


Kenneth Kamrin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

When: April 24th, 2020 from 2:00 – 3:00

Where: PICS 534

Title: Forthcoming

Abstract: Forthcoming

Bio: Ken Kamrin received a BS in Engineering Physics and a minor in Mathematics at UC Berkeley in 2003, and a PhD in Applied Mathematics at MIT in 2008. Kamrin was an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences before joining the Mechanical Engineering faculty at MIT in 2011, where he was appointed the Class of 1956 Career Development Chair. Kamrin’s research focuses on constitutive modeling and computational mechanics for large deformation processes, with interests spanning elastic and plastic solid modeling, viscous and non-Newtonian flows, amorphous solid mechanics, and analytical methods for fluids and solids.

Kamrin has been awarded fellowships from the Hertz foundation, DOD, and NSF. and has received the 2010 Nicholas Metropolis Award from APS, the NSF CAREER Award in 2012, the 2015 Eshelby Mechanics Award for Young Faculty, the 2016 Ruth and Joel Spira Teaching Award from MIT School of Engineering, and the 2016 ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics Award. He is on the Board of Directors of the Society of Engineering Science.

Pronouns: He/Him/His


Learn more about past colloquium here.