Press Release

Astrophysicist to Lead UT-ORNL Supercomputer Center

By SpaceRef Editor
December 12, 2012
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Tony Mezzacappa, a leader in the field of astrophysics and supernova science, has been named director of the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Mezzacappa is a world leader in computational astrophysics and a pioneer in the field of supernova science. He is a UT-Battelle Corporate Fellow and group leader for theoretical physics in the Physics Division at ORNL and joint professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UT. With this new position, Mezzacappa will become the department’s Newton W. and Wilma C. Thomas Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics.

UT and ORNL established JICS to advance scientific discovery, state-of-the-art engineering and knowledge of computational modeling and simulation. It does this by taking full advantage of petascale and beyond computers housed at ORNL and educating a new generation of scientists and engineers well versed in computational modeling and simulation for solving the most challenging problems.

At ORNL, Mezzacappa directed the Terascale Supernova Initiative for five years, leading the multi-million dollar, multi-year U.S. Department of Energy initiative involving several dozen researchers at a dozen institutions around the world. He has been involved in several community outreach efforts, including being a founding member of the Sequoyah Elementary Foundation and leading a major IT upgrade for Sequoyah Elementary School that saw Activboards installed in every classroom.

“Dr. Mezzacappa brings unique and extensive experience in computational astrophysics, supernova science and academic vision to the JICS director position,” said UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “We are excited for his leadership and the forward-moving direction of the center.”

Prior to UT and ORNL, Mezzacappa held positions at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned his doctorate in 1988 from the University of Texas.

“Dr. Mezzacappa’s exceptional strengths as a research leader will be a valuable asset for JICS as UT and ORNL continue working to achieve our shared goals in research and education,” said ORNL Director Thomas E. Mason. “As the power of computational simulation increases, JICS will play an important role in the development of researchers with the skills needed to harness this power and tackle the kinds of challenging problems that Dr. Mezzacappa has successfully solved.”

Mezzacappa is a fellow of the American Physical Society and received a Department of Energy Young Scientist Award. He received the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from President Bill Clinton in 1999.

Mezzacappa has been active in communicating science to the general public. He and his work have been featured on the National Geographic Channel and in Scientific American.

Whitney Heins
+1 865-974-5460

JICS manages the National Institute for Computational Sciences for the National Science Foundation, operating supercomputers that rank among the most powerful systems in the world. The JICS team includes UT-ORNL joint faculty appointees, JICS research affiliates, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and administrative staff. JICS joint faculty members hold dual positions as faculty members within a UT department and as staff scientists within an ORNL research group. JICS also has scientific support staff to aid JICS affiliates and students in their use of leadership-class computing.

SpaceRef staff editor.