Ken Kennedy Institute's November Member of the Month: Dr. Pedram Hassanzadeh

Ken Kennedy Institute's November Member of the Month: Dr. Pedram Hassanzadeh, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Pedram Hassanzadeh

The Ken Kennedy Institute's November Member of the Month, Dr. Pedram Hassanzadeh studies turbulent flows and chaotic dynamical systems in complex natural phenomena and engineering systems using numerical, mathematical, and deep learning methods, guided by observational and experimental data. His work is often motivated by theoretical and applied problems related to environment and energy. Examples of problems of interest are environmental and geophysical flows, extreme weather events (e.g., heat waves, hurricanes), reduced-order modeling, atmospheric turbulence, and climate modeling. His research has been supported by NASA, NSF, ONR, National Academy of Sciences, Schmidt Futures, Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab, Microsoft AI, Rice University Creative Ventures, and Rice Houston Engagement and Recovery Effort.

Dr. Hassanzadeh received his B.S. from the University of Tehran (2005), M.S. from the University of Waterloo (2007), and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley (2013), all in Mechanical Engineering. He also holds a M.A. degree in Mathematics from UC Berkeley (2012). He was a Ziff Environmental Fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment (2013-2015) and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard University Department of Earth and Planetary Science (2015-2016). Dr. Hassanzadeh was also a Research Associate at the University of Waterloo (2007-2008), GFD Fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (2012), and Associate at Harvard University (2016). He joined the faculty at Rice in 2016.

Dr. Hassanzadeh’s honors and awards include a CAREER Award from National Science Foundation (NSF), Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Early-Career Research Fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program, Ziff Environmental Fellowship from the Harvard University Center for the Environment, NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Fellowship from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Outstanding Preliminary Examination Award and Jonathan Laitone Memorial Scholarship from the Department of Mechanical Engineering of UC Berkeley.

What is your favorite book?

Among the books I have read in the past few years, my favorite is Mario Livio’s “Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe”. I guess the title gives you an idea of what is in the book.

How do you explain your research in one sentence?

I use fluid physics, applied math, large-scale computing, and statistical learning to develop better models and better understanding of environmental turbulent flows for applications involving climate change, extreme weather, and renewable energy.

What is your favorite aspect of your research?

I like its multidisciplinary nature and its direct connection to problems of societal importance while allowing me to use math, physics, computation, and machine learning together every day.

What challenges do you see in your research that you didn't expect?

Effective communication in multidisciplinary collaborations. The jargons aside, different disciplines have different approaches to solving problems, validating and interpreting the results, and presenting them, which can make multidisciplinary collaborations sometimes challenging.

What is a favorite experience with the Ken Kennedy Institute or describe a time the Ken Kennedy Institute supported you in the past?

My first PhD student, Ashesh, received a BP Graduate Fellowship from the Ken Kennedy Institute early in his PhD and used the travel support to attend and present at one extra conference (ICML), a conference I did not have the extra support to send him to. He came back very motivated and with a couple of new ideas, which became a major part of his PhD work and the current research in our group (and led to a couple of successful federal grants). I also really like the lunch talks!


The Rice Ken Kennedy Institute is located on the campus of Rice University inside Duncan Hall. Click the map below for directions.

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