MSU mathematics researcher lands a prestigious Simons Fellowship

  • Mar 26, 2018
  • Simon Fellowship, mathematics, research, Award
  • Homepage News, Faculty & Staff, Research, Mathematics

Image of Yingda Cheng

Yingda Cheng

Michigan State University researcher Yingda Cheng is among 40 standout mathematics leaders across the United States this year to be awarded a 2018 Simons Fellowship in Mathematics, giving her time off from classroom teaching to concentrate solely on her research.

Cheng, and associate professor who is jointly appointed in the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE), is working on cutting-edge research on discontinuous Galerkin methods with applications to semiconductor device simulations, plasma physics and nonlinear optics.

The Simons Foundation provides funds to faculty members to take up to a semester-long leave or to extend sabbatical leaves by an extra half year in an effort to promote a deeper understanding of our world by advancing the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences.

“I am really delighted and honored to receive this fellowship from the Simons Foundation,” Cheng said. “With this award, I will be able to have a more productive sabbatical leave by participating in the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute program, visiting my collaborators, wrapping up several research projects and elevating my current research scope.”

Cheng, who received her Ph.D. from Brown University in 2007, focuses her research in the broad area of scientific computing and applied mathematics. She joined MSU in 2011, after completing work as a postdoc fellow and instructor at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Mathematics and the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences.

“We develop and analyze numerical methods for solving partial differential equations in the modeling of semiconductor device simulations, plasma physics, nonlinear optics, etc.,” Cheng said. “Accurate and efficient simulations are key to the understanding of those physical systems, and mathematics plays a vital role in the design of numerical schemes.”

Keith Promislow, mathematics department chair, said Cheng’s aptitude allows her to recruit outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, who in turn contribute to the vitality of MSU’s mathematics research environment.

“Yingda’s prestigious Simons Fellowship recognizes her stature as an internationally recognized mathematician and shows that the Department of Mathematics continues to build its research strength in computational mathematics through partnerships with CMSE,” Promislow said.

The Simons Foundation is interested in how mathematicians connect their work to the world around us, and Cheng is doing just that, said Andrew Christlieb, CMSE chair.

“Yingda‘s work is trying to address complex, multiscale problems in physics and engineering that are computationally intractable,” Christlieb said. “Her work centers on developing advanced methods to make these types of problems computationally approachable. She is a true leader in the field, and we are excited for her to win this award.”

For a complete list of 2018 Simons Fellows in Mathematics awardees, visit


Banner image: This image is from a paper recently published in the journal Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics(Volume 39, Issue 6, 2017) entitled, “An adaptive multiresolution discontinuous Galerkin method for time-dependent transport equations in multidimensions.” It is well known that the main bottleneck to solving kinetic equations is their high dimensionality. Using an adaptive multiresolution discontinuous Galerkin scheme, Cheng and her colleague, Wei Guo, consider linear variable coefficient equations, aimed at developing efficient solvers for kinetic transport problems. Image courtesy of Yingda Cheng.