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Fall 2021, IDSC Membership

Featured IDSC Member: Luis Ruiz Pestana

by Helen Gynell

August 30, 2021

Luis Ruiz Pestana, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Miami. He obtained his PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Northwestern University in 2015, where he made important contributions to the areas of nanomechanics, self-assembly, and selective molecular transport in peptide nanotubes, as well as developed mesoscale models to study the mechanical properties of large-scale multilayer graphene assemblies. After his PhD, he became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he used quantum mechanical simulation methods to investigate nanoconfinement effects on chemical reactivity.

Currently, Dr. Pestana directs the “Computational Nanomaterials Laboratory” (CompNanoLab for short) where he pursues research at the intersection of chemistry, engineering mechanics, and materials science. In particular, Dr. Ruiz Pestana uses multiscale simulation techniques and data-driven approaches to understand the amazing properties of complex nanostructured materials. His ultimate aim is to use the fundamental understanding of the relationship between the structure and the properties of materials to design, de novo, new, better ones that could tackle persistent societal challenges, from sustainable infrastructure to clean energy. Dr. Ruiz Pestana also teaches courses in engineering mechanics and molecular modeling and simulation, and mentors graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of collaborative projects that range from the rational design of high-entropy alloy catalysts for water treatment applications to the discovery of environmentally friendly cements for sustainable infrastructure. His list of current collaborators at UM includes Prannoy Suraneni, James Englehardt, and James Coakley, who are faculty in different departments of the College of Engineering.

Dr. Ruiz Pestana recently received an IDSC grant for his interdisciplinary research project “Learning How Colloidal Glasses Age: A Step Towards the Rational Design of Ultra-Durable Concrete.” This project, in which he collaborates with fellow IDSC members Amin Sarafraz and Melvin Ayala, will help lower cement consumption by extending the lifetime of infrastructure with positive environmental results.

Join us for a talk with Dr. Pestana on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, 4:00-5:00 PM, as part of our Meet A Data Scientist Lecture Series. 

Meet a Data Scientist 11/16 | Register Now

TALK TITLE:  “Can data science help us understand the laws of nature?”

During the last decade, data science has had a tremendous impact on a variety of industries ranging from technology companies to marketing or finance. Only recently have data-driven approaches begun to be applied to solve problems in the physical sciences. Furthermore, the scientific community is divided as to whether black-box approaches can help us better understand the world around us. In this talk, I will overview some hard problems in physics, materials science, and chemistry, where data-driven methods may be our only hope to make progress. I will also discuss the enticing possibility of combining physical simulations—a potentially unlimited source of big data—with data science approaches to tackle persistent challenges in materials science and engineering.

The purpose of the Meet a Data Scientist lecture series is to introduce our audience to the people behind the data, their lives, interests, career choices, their work, and passion for how they can use data to solve grand challenges in their respective fields. Join IDSC as we peer behind the curtain and meet the data scientists behind the data. This lecture series is free and open to the public.

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