Tongtong Li, Guarini Postdoc

Question and Answer with Tongtong LI

Tongtong Li, a postdoc in the Department of Mathematics, is originally from Linyi, Shandong, China. She earned her undergraduate degree in economics from Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, China, a master's degree in mathematical finance at Rutgers University in the United States, and a doctoral degree in mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh. Li won the award for Best Presentation at Postdoc Research Day 2024. 

What is the focus of your graduate research? 

My Ph.D. degree is in mathematics, with a focus on numerical analysis and the solution of partial differential equations (PDEs). This area plays a crucial role in applied and computational mathematics, contributing to the understanding and explanation of phenomena across various scientific disciplines. 

What is your current area of research? 

My current research interests lie in the broad areas of computational and applied mathematics, including numerical analysis and solution of PDEs, data assimilation and Bayesian inverse problems. On one hand, I focus on the development, theoretical analysis and computational implementation of numerical methods that approximate solutions of PDEs arising from complex systems in various fields, including environmental sciences, petroleum engineering, hydrology and biomechanics engineering.

While PDEs serve as an essential tool to understand and predict dynamics, judicious treatment of data is crucial due to the structural complexity and computational intensity within these dynamics. In this regard, I am interested in the study of computational methods that enhance the information we can extract from existing data and knowledge by employing data assimilation and Bayesian approaches.

My research aims to design rigorous and comprehensive methods for meaningful descriptions and novel treatments of systems in scientific and engineering applications, by leveraging advanced tools developed in areas including numerical analysis, data assimilation and Bayesian inference, understanding the underlying philosophies of each area, and forging connections between them.

What does it mean to you to receive the award? 

Receiving this award is truly an honor for me, as it serves as a significant source of inspiration and motivation. I am very excited to have been recognized, especially considering that my presentation was the only representation of mathematics at the event. My belief in the inherent connections of mathematics with other disciplines resonated with the audience, despite many lacking a mathematical background. This recognition validates my efforts and reinforces my commitment to advocating for the integration of mathematics into diverse fields.

Why did you choose Dartmouth for your postdoc?

I was initially drawn to Dartmouth by the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI) project on Sea Ice Modeling and Data Assimilation led by Professor Anne Gelb. The project focuses on sea ice, a critical component of the global climate system, attracted me greatly. Being involved in this project would not only deepen my understanding of numerical methods from both theoretical and computational perspectives, but also expand my expertise by incorporating data assimilation and machine learning techniques. 

Moreover, Dartmouth's prestigious reputation for both research and education further reinforced my decision. Its commitment to excellence makes it an ideal environment for me to continue my academic journey.

What do you like best about Dartmouth? 

What I appreciate most about Dartmouth is its collegial atmosphere, where people are closely bonded and readily extend kindness and assistance to each other. This sense of belonging to a supportive family extends beyond academic endeavors and encompasses various aspects of life. 

I am particularly grateful to Professor Anne Gelb and Professor Yoonsang Lee for their guidance and for introducing me to the MURI project. Additionally, I extend my gratitude to my former colleague Jan Glaubitz for his support in both professional and personal aspects. I am also thankful to the entire faculty, postdoc, graduate, and undergraduate students within the MURI group whose contributions have made my experience at Dartmouth truly wonderful and vibrant.

What career/professional development advice do you have for current graduate students? 

There are several key aspects that often go overlooked but are crucial for long-term success. For example,

  • Prioritize maintaining both physical and mental health.
  • Allocate time for professional development, such as attending conferences and participating events like Postdoc Research Day.
  • Spend some time exploring courses outside your direct research to broaden your knowledge and perspective.

It's not just about obtaining a Ph.D. degree; it's about leading a fulfilling life. Graduate study is a significant part of your journey, and investing in both personal and professional growth will serve you well in the long run.