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Restrepo selected as VC for new international diversity, advocacy group

ORNL’s Juan Restrepo
ORNL’s Juan Restrepo

Juan M. Restrepo, a distinguished researcher and head of the Mathematics in Computation section at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been named vice-chair of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics' new Activity Group on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. SIAM is one of the world’s premier societies for mathematics and computational sciences.

The new activity group, known as SEDI, is a forum where members can collaborate, exchange best practice principles and ideas, train and conduct research in diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, or DEIA, areas. The SEDI group is poised to have a significant impact on DOE labs such as ORNL, as most applied mathematics researchers at these labs are members of SIAM.

Restrepo has spent decades recruiting and training students from underserved and underrepresented communities while serving at UCLA, the University of Arizona and Oregon State University, and has consulted for the National Science Foundation and SIAM on diversity issues. With support from the management team in the Computing and Computational Sciences Division at ORNL, Restrepo will work alongside other members of the team to implement and iterate on a DEIA plan for the division. His expertise in this area will prepare the directorate and the laboratory to welcome and support an increasingly diverse staff.

According to Restrepo, the SEDI group has two major goals. “The idea is for SEDI to invite SIAM members to conduct research and offer education in the practice of applied mathematics and to see how diversity, inclusion and equity informs these pursuits,” he said. “We also hope to bring in researchers around the world to have forums to explain to people how to recruit and inform both administrators and researchers.”

SIAM activity groups are an important part of the organization’s functionality — as equal to fundamental research for the advancement of the field. The SEDI group is especially important as DOE, among many organizations around the world, has recognized and is beginning to emphasize the importance of DEIA goals in support of advancing the field industrial and applied mathematics.

“My main focus is on the innovation that diversity brings to research and to an organization,” said Restrepo. “When you have a diverse set of researchers, there’s consideration of things that would otherwise not be thought of as important to our social welfare, and it’s also a great way to find synergistic solutions to the multidisciplinary problems we’re starting to grapple with in modern science.”

Restrepo will be serving alongside the group’s president, Dr. Tamara Kolda, as well as program director Dr. Suzanne Sindi and secretary Dr. Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit