Amundson Lecture Series to Feature Trailblazing Mathematician

One of the world’s leading authorities on theoretical and numerical mathematics will speak three times April 9-10 at the University of Houston as part of the Amundson Lecture Series.

The series will feature Jerrold E. Marsden, Carl F. Braun Professor of Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems at the California Institute of Technology. Marsden’s groundbreaking work has implications for space exploration by helping to make trajectories to the moon more efficient.

He will talk April 9 and 10 at the University Hilton, Las Vegas Room, and April 11 in Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall, Room 347. All lectures will be 4-5 p.m. with receptions afterwards.

Marsden’s topic for the April 9 general colloquium will be “Lagrangian Coherent Structures (LCS): Hurricanes, Ocean Dynamics, Jellyfish.” He will explain how these structures are computed and connected with other mathematical constructions such as Smale horseshoes – a precursor of chaos – in dynamical systems.

His April 10 seminar lecture will deal with optimal control, or finding control forces to determine optimal ways of carrying out a task. Many such systems are mechanical ones, and Marsden will describe techniques for computing optimal controls in mechanics. He will illustrate these techniques – which are based on recent progress in discrete theory of mechanics – using such systems as falling cats, reorienting satellites, helicopter dynamics and efficient walkers.

In his April 11 graduate student lecture, Marsden will discuss how geometry and mechanics are close partners.

Marsden’s extensive research includes work in geometric mechanics, with applications to rigid body systems, fluid mechanics, elasticity theory, plasma physics and general field theory. He is among the founders of reduction theory in such systems, a much-studied field that continues to be active. He is a well-known author who has written numerous math books at all levels. Marsden has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

UH and the Department of Mathematics host the annual lecture series to honor Neal R. Amundson, Cullen Professor of Chemical Engineering and Mathematics.

Amundson is widely regarded as one of the most prominent chemical engineering educators in the United States, He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a recipient of the Farfel Award, the highest faculty honor given by UH

Recognized as a prolific, innovative and influential researcher, Amundson’s contributions include modeling and analysis of chemical reactors, separation systems, polymerization and coal combustion.

For more information about the series, visit