The University of Utah and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) held a joint, first-of-a-kind workshop Oct. 10 and 11 on computational mechanics and sciences geared toward female researchers, an event that drew 45 participants promoting gender balance in the field.

The Regional Academic Collaboration (ReACt) Computational Mechanics and Sciences Workshop was held at the University of Utah College of Education’s main auditorium.

“The workshop was a great success as it achieved its goal of bringing scientists and engineers from national labs, industry and academia across the region together in a collaborative environment to discuss the knowledge gap in five selected topic areas,” said University of Utah mechanical engineering assistant professor Pania Newell. “Furthermore, the importance of diversity and equity in the field was discussed throughout the workshop.”

Participants who attended focused on areas including the design of nanomaterials; physics-based machine learning; multi-scale, multi-physics modeling; design of materials-structural systems and computational visualization.

Meanwhile, organizers were working to promote more female researchers in the field and creating a collaborative network among researchers from academia, national labs and industry in the southwest region.

Here is a summary of the event’s activities:

  • Diversity talks highlighted the importance of inclusion and diversity in STEM programs. Statistics were presented by multiple speakers.
  • Overviews of the DOE-BES program as well as Army Research Laboratory were presented. Also mentioned were various ways on how to collaborate with each agency.
  • LANL directors explained various ways of conducting research and collaborating with LANL engineers and scientists.
  • A discussion on the overview of the ReACt program.
  • Teams of researchers (faculty, postdocs, LANL researchers, program managers and directors) worked together during breakout sessions. Proposal ideas were discussed, scientific questions and challenges within each group were highlighted and listed.
  • Several new collaborative teams were established and identified research topics of mutual interests.
  • Various groups are planning to submit white papers to funding agencies such as DOD and DOE-BES.
  • Some faculty and researchers interacted with program managers with a concrete plan to submit white papers.
  • Many new collaborations with LANL scientists were established which may lead to opportunities for faculty to join LANL during summer or send their potential students to LANL.

The ReACt initiative seeks to facilitate increased collaborative multidisciplinary research and academic interaction between LANL and regional universities. University faculty and students benefit by access to the Lab and its staff for scientific and engineering collaborations. Strong ties between the academic community and the Lab invigorate these mutual benefits.