Skip to main content

Donna Calhoun

Donna Calhoun portrait

Office: MB 241-A
(208) 426-3386

Personal site


Donna earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Pomona College, California. She then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Mathematics and a PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Washington (Seattle, WA). After her PhD, Donna did a post-doc at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, at New York University, under the supervision of Marsha Berger (Computer Science, NYU). After a second post-doc at the University of Washington, under her former PhD advisor Randall J. LeVeque (Applied Mathematics, UW), she worked for six years in France at the Atomic Energy Commissions (C.E.A), in Saclay, France. She joined the faculty of the Department of Mathematics at Boise State University in 2011.

The focus of Donna’s research is on finite volume methods for solving partial differential equations. Her primary focus has been on the development and application of methods for solving hyperbolic conservation laws modeling acoustic wave propagation, shallow water flows, gas-dynamics and tracer transport. She has also been involved in the development of finite volume solvers for elliptic and parabolic equations. Application areas that Donna has applied her research include natural hazards modeling, pattern formation, flow on non-Euclidiean surfaces.

She is also interested in high performance computing and scientific software development, including algorithmic development for parallel, adaptive mesh methods for solving hyperbolic, elliptic or parabolic equations. She is the lead developer of the software package ForestClaw. Adaptive methods in ForestClaw use an quadtree or octree partitioning of the computational domain so that computational resources are placed on only in those solution areas demanding the most resolution. These adaptive methods are considerably more difficult to develop than standard Cartesian grid methods, and often require novel algorithmic implementations of standard Cartesian grid solvers.

Computational and applied math at Boise State University

Selected products

  • D. Duplyakin, J. Brown, and D. Calhoun, Evaluating active learning with cost and memory awareness, in 32nd IEEE International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium (IPDPS), Vancouver, WA, May 21-25 2018.
  • D. Calhoun and C. Burstedde, ForestClaw : A parallel algorithm for patch-based adaptive mesh refinement on a forest of quadtrees, arXiv:1703.03116 (2017).
  • K. T. Mandli, A. J. Ahmadia, M. Berger, D. Calhoun, D. L. George, Y. Hadjimichael, D. I. Ketcheson, G. I. Lemoine, and R. J. LeVeque, Clawpack: Building an open source ecosystem for solving hyperbolic PDEs, Peer J Computer Science, 2 (2016).
  • C. Burstedde, D. Calhoun, K. Mandli and A. R. Terrel, “ForestClaw: Hybrid of forest-of- octrees AMR for hyperbolic conservation laws”, Proceedings of ParCo 2013, September 10-13, Technical University of Munich. (2014)
  • P. H. Lauritzen, P. A. Ullrich, C. Jablonowski, P. A. Bosler, D. Calhoun, et al. “A standard test case suite for 2d linear transport on the sphere: results from 17 state-of-the-art schemes”, Geoscientific Model Development 7 (2014), 105–145.

Selected courses taught

  • MATH 301 Introduction to Linear Algebra
  • MATH 365 Introduction to Computational Mathematics
  • MATH 465/565 Numerical Methods
  • MATH 427/527 Introduction to Applied Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers
  • COMPUT 471/571 – Parallel Scientific Computing