Steven Roberts, a recent Virginia Tech alumni, has been appointed the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) Computing’s fifth Sidney Fernbach Postdoctoral Fellow in the Computing Sciences.

Roberts, who graduated with his Ph.D. in summer 2021 and was an active member of the Computational Science Laboratory under the advisement of Adrian Sandu, professor of computer science, is very excited to start this new chapter in California. "I am excited to pursue my research interests and work with golden class researchers and supercomputers, as well as and finally make the transition from a Ph.D. to a job at a national lab," said Roberts.

Named for a former laboratory director of computation, this competitive fellowship is awarded to exceptional postdocs who demonstrate the potential for significant achievements in computational mathematics, computer science, data science, or scientific computing.

“Steven has been a star student throughout his Virginia Tech career, from finishing on top of his undergraduate classes in both computer science and mathematics, to receiving the prestigious Fernbach fellowship," said Sandu. "His scholarly and research accomplishments are even more impressive when considered from the perspective that he is the first one in his family to ever earn a bachelor's degree, let alone complete a doctoral degree.”

Roberts’s fellowship will build off his Ph.D. research on efficient solutions for multiscale differential equations. In particular, he will explore the possibilities of using machine learning and reduced order models to accelerate time integration methods. He anticipates developing new multirate algorithms for important mission-relevant applications as LLNL heads into the exascale computing era.

“Time integration is a fundamental problem in scientific computing, and sophisticated methods are needed to solve these equations," explained Roberts. "Advancements in this area can have an impact on many applications.”

Roberts views the fellowship to help with his career development, as well as building up a publication record. He also hopes to obtain experience in machine learning by being able to contribute to some large-scale scientific computer codes.


Internship Opened Doors

Summer internships in 2018 and 2019 exposed Roberts to the Lab’s mission-driven science as well as Center for Applied Scientific Computing's expertise in computational mathematics, numerical analysis, and high performance computing.

“The internships gave me a sense of what it would be like to be a staff member," said Roberts. "I enjoyed the lab’s atmosphere and wanted to pursue postdoctoral research here." During his internships, Roberts collaborated closely with Carol Woodward and John Loffeld, principal investigator and mentor, respectively at LLNL.

“Steven is willing to take on hard and challenging problems,” said Woodward. “He’s good at extracting critical points, complications, and complexities, and taking out pertinent information, and translating the result into specific problems to tackle. Steven was fantastic and did a great job. He is enthusiastic and a great addition to the team.”

--Written by Diana Ofori-Manu, a student intern with the Department of Computer Science.