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Dowling receives 2020 NSF CAREER Award

Nina Welding • DATE: April 21, 2020

Alexander W. Dowling, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has received a 2020 National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to young faculty members in engineering and science.



Dowling uses mathematical modeling, computational optimization and data analytics to better integrate and design complex engineered systems. He specializes in environmentally focused and sustainable energy applications, such as carbon capture, hydrofluorocarbon and lithium-ion battery recycling, desalination and water treatment, and the responsible use of shale gas resources.

Dowling’s CAREER project, “Uncertainty Quantification and Optimization with Hybrid Models for Molecular-to-Systems Engineering,” aims to develop a new Bayesian hybrid modeling strategy needed to design and analyze complex systems across molecular to infrastructure scales. The new algorithms he creates will fuse knowledge-based mathematical and data-driven machine learning models to address the uncertainties that limit the accuracy of current multiscale modeling platforms.

“Multiscale modeling is used in a number of applications — from catalysis and CO2 capture to the development of biofuels and nanostructured materials,” said Dowling. “The challenge has been managing the trade-offs made in developing these models across length and timescales while maintaining computational tractability, performance, and safety.”

Dowling’s project includes a plan to develop graduate and undergraduate courses in chemical and biomolecular engineering and a program partnering with a local school system to incorporate computing and statistics into curricula for grades 6-12.

Dowling received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015 and held a postdoctoral associate position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2017.

He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He is also a member Notre Dame’s Kaneb Center Course Design Academy, and he mentors first-year students from underrepresented backgrounds through the University’s Building Bridges program.

In addition to his faculty appointment in the College of Engineering, Dowling serves as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Faculty Fellow in the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh.