John Burns, the T.W. Hatcher Professor of Mathematics in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been named interim director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Mathematics (ICAM), effective Sept. 10.

On the heels of Terry Herdman’s retirement as the associate vice president for research computing and director for the center, Burns will be responsible for leading the center’s strategic planning and programmatic execution, advocating for and developing broad faculty engagement with the applied mathematics research program, and overseeing the operations and fiscal management of the center according to university policy.

“ICAM is part of Virginia Tech’s strategy for transdisciplinary scholarship through support for research centers. I’m grateful for all Terry has accomplished in his leadership of the center,” said Dan Sui, senior vice president for research and innovation. “John’s intimate knowledge of the center makes him the perfect choice to lead it through this transition, and I look forward to working with him and the next director to continue to build on the center’s accomplishments.”

As the administrator of the center, Sui currently is in the process of appointing the next director for ICAM. Faculty who are interested in serving in the position should send their CV and a letter of interest to Laurel Miner by Oct. 11.

“Under the 35-year leadership of Terry, ICAM became an internationally recognized center of excellence in applied and computational mathematics,” said Burns. “It is my goal to work with Dr. Sui to identify new leadership and to help define a vision that will transition ICAM.”

Previously the technical director of ICAM, Burns’ research work includes applied and computational control, partial differential equations, distributed parameter systems, fluid/structural controls systems, smart materials, and modeling and control of high performance buildings.

Burns has published more than 150 research papers on computational methods for identification, design, optimization, and control of systems governed by partial and functional differential equations. He was the founding editor of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics book series on "Advances in Design and Control."  Burns is a lifetime fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a fellow in the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and in 2010, he received the SIAM Reid Prize for his fundamental contributions in computational methods for applications in control, design, and optimization of infinite dimensional dynamical systems.

In 2005, Burns was named Honorary Professor of Mathematics at the Beijing Institute of Technology and in 2008, he was named a visiting research fellow at the United Technologies Research Center.

Burns received a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Arkansas State University and a master's degree and doctoral degree from the University of Oklahoma.

As a university-level center, ICAM is designed to promote and facilitate research and education in interdisciplinary areas where applied and computational mathematics play a fundamental role. The center seeks to enhance and expand the historical links among mathematics, computational science, engineering, and the sciences, including the participation of traditional academic disciplines, the addition of new areas of modern technology and active interactions with industry.  

The mission of the center is to promote existing interdisciplinary research programs in applied and computational mathematics and to develop new areas of excellence at Virginia Tech with the goal to develop an international reputation as one of worlds’ top research centers in applied and computational mathematics.  

ICAM helps Virginia Tech faculty members, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows, as well as graduate and undergraduate students with a wide range of educational and research experiences collaborate on complex problems that require interdisciplinary teams.

The research efforts of the center support the university's commitment to teaching, scholarship, and active learning in the spirit of innovation, experimentation, and creativity.

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