Kaushik Bhattacharya, Howell N. Tyson, Sr. Professor of Mechanics and Materials Science and vice provost, has been awarded the Theodore von Kármán Prize by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).
The award, which is given out once every five years, recognizes a notable application of mathematics to mechanics or engineering in the five to 10 years preceding the award.
Bhattacharya, a fellow of SIAM, told the organization that "I look at the list of past recipients, and it is humbling to join my mentors as well as colleagues whom I have admired over the years. I also have had the privilege of spending my career at Caltech where von Kármán is a living legend, and it is nice to be recognized in his name. Most importantly, I have had the enormous good fortune of working with an extraordinary group of students and postdoctoral scholars as well as collaborators over the years, and I see this as a recognition of their work as well."
"The prize is awarded to him in recognition of his major mathematical and computational contributions to materials science," according to SIAM's announcement of the award. Bhattacharya's research explores why materials have the mechanical properties that they do, and how those properties change when the configuration or dimension of the materials change.
"Most materials have structures, patterns, and phenomena at multiple scales, and the behavior that we observe is the result of an interaction between all these scales. It is a great challenge, and a fascinating one, to understand these interactions. It is also intriguing to exploit this understanding to improve existing materials, to suggest new phenomena, and to see their adaptation in new applications," Bhattacharya said.
Bhattacharya received the award in a virtual ceremony on July 9 at the 2020 SIAM annual meeting, and delivered a lecture in honor of the occasion titled "Mathematics, Mechanics and Materials: The Case Study of Liquid Crystal Elastomers."
The Theodore von Kármán Prize includes a $2,000 monetary award and a certificate. It was established in 1968 in honor of Theodore von Kármán, famed mathematician, aerospace engineer, and physicist who served as the first director of GALCIT and the first director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which Caltech manages for NASA.