Sandia LabNews

Jackie Chen named DOE fellow


Combustion pioneer is one of eight national distinguished scientist fellows

Jackie Chen
HIGH PERFORMANCE — Sandia combustion researcher Jackie Chen has been selected by the DOE Office of Science as a 2020 distinguished scientist fellow.

Jackie Chen, whose work on fundamental turbulence-chemistry interactions in combustion helped advance the design of automotive, gas turbine and jet engines, has been selected by DOE as a distinguished scientist fellow — one of only eight researchers in the nation to hold the distinction.

Jackie, a senior scientist in the chemistry, combustion and materials division at Sandia’s Livermore site, is a pioneer in the field of advanced computational methods to understand combustion and chemical reactions relevant to engines.

The DOE Office of Science recognition honors Jackie’s career pushing the limits of supercomputers and applied math research to make engines more efficient while minimizing harmful emissions.

“It’s critical that we advance every tool that we can, including the world’s fastest high-performance computer, Summit at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This supercomputer is capable of performing high-fidelity simulations that generate huge comprehensive sets of data to help the nation be energy efficient and evolve combustion engines to their maximum potential,” Jackie said.

Her achievements include a cool-flame ignition mechanism discovery that is important in modern diesel engines with exhaust gas recirculation. One recent discovery also is paving the way for the next generation of gas turbines for electricity production, focusing on using hydrogen as a fuel to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels and to provide flexibility to complement the rising number of renewable energy sources, like solar power, that cannot be switched on or off to fit the needs of consumers.

Leader and role model

Throughout her career, Jackie has inspired young scientists, mentoring dozens of researchers who have gone on to work in labs, universities and industries across the nation.

She also has brought scientists from different disciplines together to solve the problems of the future, through leadership in DOE’s Exascale Combustion Co-Design Center and the Exascale Computing Project on combustion simulation known as Pele, among others. Through these projects, national lab and university researchers have and are working together to improve the next generation of combustion application software optimized to exascale architectures for high-performance computing.

“Jackie’s selection as an Office of Science distinguished scientist fellow is testament to her brilliant intellect, devotion and passion for her work, her strong desire for collaboration and the energy and time she has dedicated to coaching and mentoring postdocs and students who are now trusted colleagues and scientific leaders,​” said Sarah Allendorf, director of Sandia’s chemistry, combustion and materials science center.

As an Office of Science distinguished fellow, Jackie will use her expertise and her worldwide connections to advance machine learning and simulate engine combustion in even greater detail, to make engines cleaner and more efficient. She hopes to connect universities and the DOE labs through a new exascale computational framework that enables machine learning algorithms to be tested as part of combustion research. She will also generate high-fidelity combustion data used to train and validate physics-informed, machine-learned models.

Jackie joined Sandia in 1982. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University, her master’s degree from the University of California Berkeley and her doctorate from Stanford University, all in mechanical engineering.