Hermann Riecke Named Chair of the Department of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics

Riecke to continue furthering ESAM’s connections across Northwestern

Hermann Riecke, professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics (ESAM) at Northwestern Engineering, has been named chair of the Department of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics, effective September 1, 2022. Riecke succeeds professor and chair David Chopp

Hermann Riecke

“I am delighted that Hermann has agreed to serve as chair of the Department of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics. Under Hermann’s leadership, the department will continue to be a leader in its field,” said Julio M. Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering. “I want to thank David for his excellent leadership. During his time as chair, he has led ESAM to become an even stronger part of our University by strengthening collaborations across McCormick and Northwestern.”

For 33 years, Riecke has pursued research in the McCormick School of Engineering’s applied mathematics department. He has greatly appreciated how smoothly the department is run, allowing him to delve into his research interests of computational neuroscience and pattern formation.

“I am glad that I can now pay forward the support I have received,” Riecke said.

“I will aim to provide a supportive environment in which students and faculty can excel, a goal that Dave Chopp has achieved impressively. It will be particularly important to support the younger faculty members that were hired during the past few years,” Riecke added. “I hope to continue the collaborative and collegial atmosphere that we have had over the years. During the pandemic, it has been quite easy for us mathematicians to work and collaborate remotely. For most of us, however, that reduced the spontaneous interactions with colleagues, staff, and students in the hallway and at the coffee machine. I think it will be important for us to regain those interactions, which are difficult to emulate online.”

Riecke hopes to build off what Chopp achieved during his tenure and is eager to further bolster the interconnections between ESAM faculty and their colleagues across the University – within the McCormick School of Engineering as well as with the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Feinberg School of Medicine, and beyond.

“A prime example of such a collaboration is the NSF-Simons Center for Quantitative Biology that is co-led by Professors Richard Carthew and William Kath, in which a number of ESAM faculty members are very active, including Madhav Mani, Niall Mangan, and Rosemary Braun. In this center, mathematical scientists and developmental biologists intensely work together on a broad range of questions that arise in the biology of animal development, leveraging the power of mathematics to extract, analyze, and model experimental data quantitatively.”

Students, Riecke said, are central to the enterprise.

He wants them – undergraduate and graduate students alike – to have the opportunity to explore different facets of applied mathematics and to identify areas of interest that they are keen to pursue after graduation, be it in industry, governmental institutions, or academia.

“We aim to teach students a powerful set of mathematical and computational tools that allow them to solve quantitative problems in a wide field of applications,” Riecke said. “Since it is not possible to predict which tools students will need in their future careers – some of those methods may not even exist yet – the goal is to provide them with a sufficiently broad and solid foundation so that they know how to identify, learn, develop, and apply new methods with which they can then push forward their future projects.”

McCormick News Article