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NICS Project Highlighted in Mars Podcast

UT’s National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) has been at the forefront of computational research since its inception in 2007. In 2015, NICS partnered with Mars, Incorporated to create the Mars Advanced Research Virtual Environment Lab, or MARVEL.

Since its inception, MARVEL has hosted impactful research for food production and safety, helping scientists from the Mars Advanced Research Institute (MARI) simulate new candy production techniques, find effective coatings for pet kibble, and efficiently predict levels of fungal toxins in maize harvested in different locations, among other projects.

Mars has just launched a new podcast, “Sparked by MARI,” in which Mars’ Chief Science Officer and Vice President of MARI, Abigail Stevenson, discusses MARI projects and their impacts on both the food industry and the world. In the podcast’s inaugural episode, Stevenson sat down with Deborah Crawford, UT’s Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, to discuss MARVEL’s success and future.

“[Computationally]-driven discovery is a really critical pillar for MARI,” Stevenson said in the episode. “Working together with NICS through MARVEL is really helping us to spark new discoveries, to develop new capabilities, in the world of emerging science and technology.”

Crawford emphasized the importance of joint research between public institutions like UT and industry groups.

“Public-private partnerships like the MARI-NICS collaboration are really the cornerstone of our global innovation ecosystem,” she said. “MARI benefits from the cutting-edge computational capabilities here at NICS to advance Mars’ business interests, and NICS faculty, staff, and students benefit from the opportunity to work on real-world problems while also advancing the science of computation.”

Looking ahead, Stevenson and Crawford expressed excitement for the possibility of “MARVEL 2.0.”

“I think that [this] collaboration will continue to deliver the next generation of technologies and capabilities that we’re going to need to keep on the forefront [of] this area of science,” said Stevenson.

To hear the full conversation, including more details on the fungal toxin project, visit