ENVMK founder Juris Mikeelson receives UL Annual Award for the creation of a science school

Juris Mikelsons is the initiator, the founder and the first head of the Department of Electrodynamics and Continuum Mechanics (ENVMK) of the University of Latvia. In January 2021, a long-term professor in the Faculty of Physics, Math and Optometry at the University of Latvia – Juris Mikelsons, received the UL Annual Award for establishing the Scientific School of Numerical Modelling.

Numerical modelling of industrial and environmental processes using computing capabilities is a very fast-growing field of engineering and physics. The development of this direction over the 50-year period has shown the sustainability and relevance of the chosen direction in Latvia and the world. For the establishment of a forward-looking course of study and research, the University of Latvia is thankful to the long-standing professor of the University of Latvia, Juris Mikelsons, who had a clear vision of the prospects for developing this approach in the 60ies, when computer capabilities were severely limited.

Experts of Numerical modelling in four generations

In 1970, Juris Mikelsons founded the Department of Electrodynamics and Continuum Mechanics, which became the Centre for Applied Scientific Studies in numerical modelling. The section carried out a full-fledged study specialisation programme for five semesters, ensuring the training of applied research-oriented continuous environmental physics specialists with advanced computer modelling skills.

The number of doctoral dissertations defended by the students of Juris Mieklsons exceeds 10. Almost all these doctoral candidates have continued their scientific activities in a related science sector. The numerical modelling specialists prepared by prof. Juris Mikelsons have demonstrated their ability to compete while working in leading positions in research and education both in Latvia (A. Cēbers, S. Lācis, L.Buligins, etc.), and abroad (I. Rubinsteins in Israel, J. Dzenis in the United States, R. Joffe and J. Varna in Sweden). The graduates have also become successful entrepreneurs and UL mercenaries (e.g. Arnis Riekstins, Mikrotīikls), while some graduates and doctors have been successful in the European industry in the field of research and development (e.g. G. Ratnieks, Siltronic; M. Kirpo, Wilo; A. Umbsko, ABP; S. Spitans, ALD Technologies). Today, the promotion works are being defended by a generation of researchers from the fourth school set up by prof. Juris Mikelsons.

International cooperation continues

While setting up the department, close cooperation was established with the then institutes of physics and polymeric mechanics, which have become departments in the University of Latvia over time and continue to cooperate with the ENVMK. The contribution of Juris Mikelsons to promoting long-term international scientific cooperation is also important. In the 70s of the 20th century, ENVMK started cooperation with the research centres of the USSR, but in the 80s started the first scientific cooperation with the University of Hannover in Germany. The cooperation is still ongoing today.

Juris Mikelsons also started a tradition – the scientific conference on electrodynamics and continuous environmental mechanics, bringing together a wide range of specialists in the field. In the 90s, this tradition transformed together with the University of Hannover into an international colloquium Modeling for Material Technologies.

Contribution to success

The department of Electrodynamics and Continuum Mechanics, created in 1970, has been working successfully for 50 years. Over the years, the department has experienced a number of replacements. After the founder Juris Mikelsons, the chair of ENVMK was taken over by Gunars Sermons, later Leonids Buligins (currently the director of the Institute of Physics), followed by Andris Jakovics (currently the head of the Laboratory of Multiphysical Processes in the Institute of Numerical Modeling), and in spring 2020 the duties of chairing the department ware taken over by Tija Sile.

As the award ceremony could not take place in person this time, the winners were given the opportunity to thank for the prize in a video greeting. The speech of gratitude by the long-standing Professor Juris Mikelsons can be seen in the video (00:50:14).

The Institute of Numerical Modelling and the Faculty of Physics, Mathematics and Optometry is proud and congratulates the winner!

This article was prepared by Karlina Engere.