On Dec. 4, during its end-of year luncheon, the department also awarded four CAAM-Chevron Prizes. Two CAAM majors, seniors Anna Cowan and Victor Gonzalez, each received a $750 prize. Two CAAM minors, both seniors in mechanical engineering, Jing Gu and Ian Frankel, each received a $250 prize. Two Chevron representatives attended the award luncheon.
“The CAAM department is grateful for the years of support of Chevron for the undergraduate program,” Rivière said.
The CAAM Michael Ross Franco Award is presented annually to an outstanding CAAM undergraduate, and includes a $1,000 prize. The award is named for Michael Ross Franco, who graduated from Rice with a B.A. in 2014 and had a double major in CAAM and mathematics. At the start of his senior year, Franco was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For eight months he underwent chemotherapy while completing course work, and graduated on time.
The award was established by Franco’s family “to annually recognize one or more outstanding undergraduate juniors or seniors majoring or minoring in computational and applied mathematics who have demonstrated exemplary performance or excellence in a class and/or undergraduate research.” The Franco family personally presented the award to Varun at the CAAM luncheon.
Franco’s senior design project focused on developing a prototype therapy-modeling tool for MRI-guided laser ablations to treat brain tumors. His advisers were Tim Warburton, formerly a professor of CAAM at Rice, and David Fuentes, assistant professor of imaging physics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. For his undergraduate research work, Michael received the CAAM-Chevron prize in his senior year.
After graduating and during the remainder of his cancer treatment, Franco worked at BP’s Center for High-Performance Computing, where he focused on improving parallel methods for acoustic wave propagation. In 2016, Franco joined the applied mathematics doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley, where his research focuses on developing high-order methods for numerically solving partial differential equations.