2021 MICDE Director’s Letter



In 2021, the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering (MICDE) continued to improvise, adapt and overcome challenges in a not-yet post-pandemic world. Today, I write to you with more clarity and determination than ever before to realize MICDE’s core mission and vision. The role of computation in navigating the present and charting the future is at a level of all-time importance in the public sphere.

MICDE remains the focal point for the wide spectrum of research in computational science and engineering at the University of Michigan. This includes the development and deployment of sophisticated models from nearly every aspect of science and engineering on high-performance computers (HPC) to support basic research, product development, and forecasting. Computational Discovery and Engineering (CDE) is an enabling discipline with computation widely accepted as the third mode of scientific discovery, on par with theory and physical experimentation.

At MICDE, researchers continue to define fundamentally new paradigms to blend computer science, future hardware and big data with computational science. Affiliated faculty come schools, colleges and units across our three campuses, including the College of Engineering and the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts.

With the ongoing challenges associated with successfully operating in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, MICDE has a great deal to be proud of as we look back on our accomplishments from 2021.

  • Five broad and high-impact computational science projects were awarded as part of our 2021 MICDE Catalyst Grant program. The 2021-22 cohort of MICDE Catalyst Grants ranges from quantum computing for engineering science, to AI for the physics of cancer, and computational advances in hazards engineering, through mathematical advances in data science, and bioengineering. These projects represent new frontiers of computational research spearheaded by the Institute’s initiatives.
  • This year, MICDE awarded 20 fellowships in a wide array of disciplines ranging from chemistry to biostatistics and interdisciplinary mathematics to applied physics. Engineering is also well represented, with fellows focused on disciplines such as aerospace, biomedical, civil and environmental, climate and space, industrial and operations, materials science, mechanical, and naval architecture and marine engineering.
  • MICDE supported the University of Michigan School of Public Health to launch a new Master of Science in Computational Epidemiology and Systems Modeling. This program will allow enrolled students to learn and work alongside faculty with varied interests, specializations, backgrounds, and active research projects. From cancer intervention to surveillance modeling and pandemic response, U-M School of Public Health faculty lead centers and partnerships that span the globe.
  • A new U-M research project is part of a $2.8 million grant from the Department of Energy on algorithms research, which is the backbone of predictive modeling and simulation. The research will enable DoE to set new frontiers in physics, chemistry, biology, and other domains, helping to revolutionize the data processing pipeline with state-of-the-art algorithms to optimize the collection and processing of data of any kind. Algorithms available now are built for real data, meaning real numbers, however, most of the data we see on the internet is not real, like discrete or categorical data. MICDE continues to welcome queries or requests for comments on issues dealing with computing, computational science and engineering and, more broadly, on information technology.
  • MICDE and Advanced Research Computing (ARC) have been working with the team at miRcore over the past five years to support its volunteer program that aims to mentor high-school students in computational biology. Their mentorship program integrates science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. The nonprofit has developed various programs that effectively deliver teen education in STEMM outside the classroom setting, focused on raising awareness of genetic effects on health through activities requiring teamwork and leadership. With MICDE support, this year miRcore programs eclipsed more than 5,500 students served over the past 10 years.

Computational discovery remains the key to understanding the deepest mysteries of our world. MICDE, as the U-M leader in computational science, will continue to develop new computational paradigms to accelerate and expand scientific discovery and innovative research underlying progress in all aspects of society.

Krishna Garikipati
Director, MICDE