Prof. Michael Shields Receives 2019 Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award

June 6, 2019

Congratulations to Michael Shields, assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, for being awarded a 2019 Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award!

The Catalyst Awards program was launched in early 2015, as was the Discovery Awards program for interdivisional collaborations. Together the two programs represent a $30 million university investment in faculty-led research by university leadership along with the deans and directors of JHU’s divisions.

“By supporting the creative and ambitious research of early-career faculty, we are investing not only in the future of these exceptional scholars but of the entire academic enterprise,” Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels says. “And there is no more urgent time than the present to renew our commitment to those whose ideas will improve the condition of our world and its people.”

The 2019 honorees—thirty-three promising early-career faculty members from eight divisions of the university — were selected on the basis of their accomplishments to date, creativity and originality, and academic impact. They will each receive a $75,000 grant to support their work over the next year, and also will have the opportunity to participate in mentoring sessions and events designed to connect these colleagues at similar stages in their careers.

Shields’s proposal addresses the increasing need for computational modelers with specific expertise in the area of uncertainty quantification (UQ) – the process of mathematically characterizing and reducing uncertainties in an effort to improve computational models, inform decision-making, and make engineering systems more reliable. With the award, he and his group plan to expand their footprint to open new frontiers in the mathematical treatment of uncertainty in very large-scale computations through two main research tasks: mainfold learning for UQ and software solutions for UQ.

Shields and his group have already developed the UQpy toolkit for uncertainty quantification in Python. UQpy is one of the few general purpose UQ toolboxes and the most advanced toolbox for the Python programming language. The Catalyst award will used to further development of the code to include the approaches discussed above for active learning through nonlinear projection based dimension reduction.

This is the fifth year of the Catalyst Awards program; a combined 137 faculty were recognized during its first four cycles. Recipients are celebrated alongside the winners of the Discovery Awards at an event each fall.

“Once again, we were thrilled with the strength of proposals submitted for this year’s Catalyst Awards,” says Denis Wirtz, JHU’s vice provost for research. “This hallmark program to support our early-career faculty will enable a huge range of scientific and creative discovery. We look forward to celebrating the newest inductees into this fantastic cohort.”

Visit The Hub for the full list of award recipients >>

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