Maria Taccari, a researcher doing a PhD at the School of Civil Engineering and School of Computing at the University of Leeds recently received financial funding from the Leeds Institute of Fluid Dynamics towards a research placement at Brown University. She has written a piece about her experience below.
Written by Maria Taccari
As I sit in my room during my final days at Brown University, I'm filled with a bittersweet feeling. These past four months have been a wonderful journey filled with hard study, meeting new friends, learning new things, and having lots of exciting adventures.
Celebrating the Persian New Year with the CRUNCH group led by professor Karniadakis
My visit to Brown was primarily to connect with the CRUNCH group, under the expert guidance of Professor Karniadakis. This team is a pioneer in scientific machine learning and is developing innovative deep learning solutions to critical scientific problems. My PhD research is centered around deep learning models to simulate water issues like floods and droughts: imagine it as a ChatGPT, but to tackle water problems! The team, comprising more than 35 gifted individuals, introduced me to their own methods to create surrogate models - faster, more efficient models - which I could apply to predict groundwater levels. Interacting with these brilliant minds, through weekly lunches and seminars, a conference, and group trips (like a fun weekend trip to Niagara Falls) was an enlightening experience.
Immersing myself in the Brown University community truly enriched my experience here. In addition to attending an advanced class from the Computer Science department - one I consider among the best courses of my life - I also actively participated in various facets of university life. Life at Brown University was a balance of hard work and fun times. I was lucky to be part of a lively group of friends: we spent our free time doing all sorts of things, from going on camping trips to playing sports and having fun nights out. One of my favorite memories is the big birthday party we had at my place (a stunning mansion house, an architectural gem from the Victorian era built back in 1860!). Also, I really enjoyed playing tennis at the Brown Tennis Club: the friendly atmosphere and the high level playing definitely added to my overall time and well being at Brown.
Daily trip to the sport club The Preserve with the Brown Tennis Club
As I wrap up my stay here, my heart is filled with gratitude and nostalgia. I am immensely grateful to the Leeds Institute for Fluid Dynamics (LIFD) and Deltares for their financial help, and to my Leeds supervisors for their ongoing support and guidance during my time at Brown. If anyone ever gets the opportunity to be part of this amazing community, I can't recommend it enough. Now, as I pack my bags and look forward to a month-long road trip and camping on my own, I carry with me memories that will stay with me forever.
If there's one thing I've understood from this experience, it's that while the environment can provide plenty of support and opportunities, it is ultimately the passion within that drives us forward.
See you soon back in Leeds or along the road!