Professor O’Neil Wins Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award


Michael O’Neil, an assistant professor of mathematics at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, will receive a 2017 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator award to pursue a new generation of simulation and design tools for computational electromagnetics using fast, high-order, analysis-based algorithms.

With electromagnetic devices becoming more complicated by the day, our increased reliance on these technologies, such as radar systems, optical devices, lasers, and satellite communication systems, dictates that the study of computational electromagnetics (CEM) is more important than ever.

CEM is the process of modeling the interaction between electromagnetic fields, physical objects, and the environment. When coupled with advanced optimization techniques, CEM algorithms allow for a cheaper and faster design process by eliminating the need to build and test costly physical prototypes.

Over the next several years, Professor O’Neil will develop state-of-the-art integral equation-based fast solvers targeting various problems in CEM. These algorithms will be designed to execute rapidly, reliably, and accurately enough to be incorporated into real-time CEM engineering design tools.

Additionally, a substantial number of the mathematical and numerical models that will be developed can be easily repurposed for simulations in other areas of classical mathematical physics, such as fluid dynamics, heat flow, and elastodynamics.

When asked about his plans for the project, O’Neil said, “In contrast to some other areas of physics, fortunately for us, the physics of many electromagnetic wave propagation phenomena is well-understood and very accurately modeled using Maxwell’s equations. If these equations can then be solved rapidly and — more importantly — accurately, device design can be moved from physical experimentation to computational simulations. Building these computational methods is my main goal over the next several years.”

Established in 1985, the prestigious ONR Young Investigator Program supports academic scientists and engineers who show exceptional promise for creative research. The program also encourages the development of the teaching and research careers of its chosen Young Investigators. This year, out of 360 applicants, 33 scientists were chosen and were given a collective $16 million.

Prior to his current dual appointment at NYU Tandon and Courant, O’Neil held a Courant Instructorship at the Courant Institute, and was a Quantitative Researcher and Assistant Trader at Susquehanna International Group, LLP. He received his doctorate in applied mathematics from Yale University.

“Michael is one of the real innovators of his generation, making important contributions in scientific computing with application to electromagnetics, acoustics, plasma physics, and high-dimensional data analysis” Dr. Leslie Greengard, who previously collaborated with O’Neil, said. Greengard is a faculty member and former director of the NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and is the director of the Center for Computational Biology at the Simons Foundation Flatiron Institute.

Carmen Chen
NYU Tandon School of Engineering
B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Class of 2017