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Two University professors on Highly Cited Researchers 2021 list

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Published on Monday, 10 January 2022

Professors Stéphane Bordas and Alexandre Tkatchenko from the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Luxembourg have been ranked among the world’s most influential academics on the “Highly Cited Researchers 2021” list published by Clarivate.

Top listed researchers

The annual list of highly cited researchers identifies scientists who demonstrated significant influence in their fields as measured by the number of citations during the past decade. Their names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index. 

A total of 6,602 researchers have been named Highly Cited Researchers in 2021 – 3,774 in specific fields and 2,828 for cross-field performance. Researchers are selected for their exceptional influence and performance in one or more of 21 fields (those used in Essential Science Indicators™ or ESI), or across several fields. 

Two outstanding professors

Prof. Stéphane Bordas has been on the list consecutively since 2015, Prof. Alexandre Tkatchenko since 2018. 

Stéphane Bordas is full professor in computational mechanics and founding director of the doctoral programme in data and computational sciences. His research activities focus on the development of data-driven numerical methods for engineering and medicine. The multidisciplinary approach combines mathematical skills with computer science tools. Prof. Bordas has published over 130 articles in international journals and is Editor in Chief of Advances in Applied Mechanics and Associate Editor of Data Centric Engineering. 

Alexandre Tkatchenko is full professor in theoretical chemical physics and Head of the Department of Physics and Materials Science. His research activities focus on new methods combining physical models with machine learning to discover novel phenomena in complex molecular systems and to apply them to real-life problems. Prof. Tkatchenko is Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), serves on editorial boards of Science Advances (AAAS) and Physical Review Letters (APS), and has published more than 180 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals with an h-index of 72 and more than 25,000 citations to his articles.

Research applications and advice

In a brief interview, Professors Stéphane Bordas and Alexandre Tkatchenko share their personal insight following their nomination. 

How does your research translate into daily life applications?

Prof. Stéphane Bordas: “We use mathematics as a language to bridge gaps between different disciplines ranging from brain cell metabolism to space science and archaeology, through space science. Specifically, my team makes it possible to solve problems directly from images or design data. We are developing ground-breaking mathematical modelling methods for this, which vastly improve computational performance whilst controlling the accuracy of the solution. Our 10 year target is to provide a strong headway in personalised cancer treatment through real-time control of organ(oid)s and digital twinning.” 

Prof. Alexandre Tkatchenko: “Today, rational computational design of any new molecule in pharmaceutical and chemical industries requires a strong combination of quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and machine learning. My group has been developing all these three directions for more than a decade with the ultimate goal of enabling accurate and efficient molecular discovery. Methods developed in my group are now routinely used by thousands of researchers and companies worldwide. The main areas of application of our methods in industry (that I am aware of) are predicting the properties of new drugs, how drugs interact with proteins in human cells, or in the process of drug tablet formulation. The real power of method development (theory or experiment) is that most real-life applications are unpredictable, but become reality only in the future.” 

What are your recommendations for researchers to reach and maintain such an outstanding position?

Prof. Stéphane Bordas: “Any award is as biased as the norms used to measure the contenders. Having a dream is a vital motivator and individuals are bound to have different dreams. Whatever those dreams are matters less than the energy expended in reaching them and the humanity with which a mentor supports a mentee.”

Prof. Alexandre Tkatchenko: “I don't think there is a predetermined pattern. For me, the key aspects for impact are embracing multi-disciplinarity, willingness to address challenging problems, and breaking established paradigms. As Richard Feynman nicely said: "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts".”