Four U-M projects aim to advance computational discovery


Research teams from across the University of Michigan will share $240,000 in awards to explore projects ranging from drug discovery and galactic formation to bacterial colonies and turbulence.

The Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering recently awarded funding to four research projects as part of its Catalyst Grants program. The program, launched in 2017, has funded a wide spectrum of cutting-edge research that combines science, engineering, mathematics and computer science.

“These four projects have the potential to catalyze and reorient the directions of their research fields by developing and harnessing powerful paradigms of computational science,” said MICDE Director Krishna Garikipati, professor of mechanical engineering, College of Engineering, and professor of mathematics, LSA.

“Our mission at MICDE is to advance computational science research by fostering collaboration across the university, and these projects embody that mission.”

MICDE awarded grants for the following projects:

Leveraging Generative Artificial Intelligence for the De Novo Design of Biomolecular Probes

Aaron Frank, assistant professor of biophysics and of chemistry, LSA, and his group will spearhead efficient strategies to rapidly develop treatments for emerging diseases — a need made more compelling by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their approach combines generative artificial intelligence models and molecular docking to rapidly explore the space of chemical structures and generate target-specific virtual libraries for drug discovery.

Exploring Spatiotemporal Biofilm Development Through the Computational Looking Glass

Marisa Eisenberg, associate professor of epidemiology, School of Public Health, and associate professor of mathematics and of complex systems, LSA, and Alexander Rickard, associate professor of epidemiology, Public Health, and their groups will develop novel computational techniques to study biofilm architectures.

Biofilms are complex assemblages of microbial cells that form on almost any natural and man-made surface. They cause several debilitating diseases, and can even damage machinery and equipment, elevating the understanding of their behavior to a critical need.

Uncovering the Origins of the Local Group of Galaxies with Tailored Initial Conditions

Oleg Gnedin, associate professor of astronomy, LSA, will develop novel techniques to tailor the mathematical initial conditions from which to simulate chosen regions of the universe. The resulting insights will help uncover the origins of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

Accelerated Computation of Resolvent Modes for High-Dimensional Dynamic Systems

Aaron Towne, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, CoE, will advance the modeling of complex, turbulent flows and other large-scale systems in engineering science. His research will enable orders of magnitude of acceleration in the computation of extremely large-scale flows in a number of engineering systems.


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