Courtney Shafer

Institution/Organization: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Department: Computational Research Division

Academic Status: Researcher

What conference theme areas are you interested in:

Adaptive control, optimal control, and estimator design; Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) for science and engineering; Applications in science, engineering, and industry; Computation with discrete structures and graphs; Data assimilation, challenges in data science, math of AI and ML; Education and interdisciplinary programs in CSE; Emerging software infrastructure for CSE, sustainability of numerical software; High-order methods, novel discretizations, and scalable solvers; High-performance computing, emerging architectures and programming paradigms; Inverse problems, optimization, and uncertainty quantification; Model and dimensionality reduction; Multiscale, multiphysics, and multilevel methods; Quantum algorithms, quantum computation, and quantum information science


Currently, I am interested in the intersection between applied mathematics and glaciology. After graduating with my bachelor’s in physics in 2018, I volunteered with Dr. Ian Joughin and his graduate student Taryn Black at the University of Washington analyzing radar imagery of Greenland’s northwestern glaciers to understand how their termini changed over time using edge detection. Although interesting, I felt as though I wasn’t applying my math and physics background as much as I desired and realized I wanted to delve more into the physics side of glaciology. This naturally led to an interest in ice sheet dynamics and modeling. I am deeply interested in the physics of glaciers and hope to learn more about how glaciers influence our climate and sea levels. To achieve that goal, I recently joined the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a Numerical Modeling Post-bacc Fellow and have been working on modeling and the simulation of ice sheets in Antarctica and that effect on sea-level rise. Specifically, I’m interested in the application of hydrologic models to ice sheet modeling and the formation of hydrologic waterways and features through ice sheets and how that impacts glacier and water flow over time.

Non-Work Related Activities/Interests:

As a first-generation graduate and woman in STEM, I am deeply passionate about supporting underrepresented and under-privileged groups in all sectors of education, from early education to college. While still in college, I participated in a program called Physics Circus where a group of undergraduate and graduate students demonstrated simple science experiments to local K-12 schools. I was also part of and helped create a club at our university called Undergraduate Diversity and Inclusion in Physics (UDIP) where we developed outreach programs and workshops aimed at helping students navigate the world of physics and college in general. Our club created a textbook library for those who couldn’t afford textbooks and I also created an introductory Python workshop, stressing the importance of programming experience, especially for those interested in eventually doing research. As someone who was deeply lost my freshman year of college, having a club like this of like-minded individuals with similar backgrounds would have been a huge boost for me and my level of confidence. I hope to continue along this path, sharing my experiences as a first-generation, low-income student and helping those who need an extra boost.