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Sergey Koltakov, PhD '13

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Sergey Koltakov, PhD '13

Sergey Koltakov, PhD '13

TELL US WHAT YOU'RE UP TO NOW-(WORK, RESEARCH, HOBBIES, OTHER)

Currently I’m heading a research department at a solar PV monitoring and analytics company. To get there, I had to switch gears from hydrodynamics to atmospheric sciences, from Matlab to R, and from C to Scala. With the solar PV market explosion, the amount of data my company is collecting is growing exponentially so I also had to become a part-time data scientist. Making sense of all this data to empower our customers is a very challenging, yet fascinating task.

Whenever I have time outside of work, I try to play tennis, which, in fact, I had picked up at Stanford in the final years of my Ph.D. trying to manage stress and enjoy California weather.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE ICME?

For my undergrad, I majored in Applied Mathematics but closer to the end started gravitating more towards Computer Science. ICME was a perfect match for me since it allowed me to work on both.

WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE YEAR IMMEDIATELY AFTER GRADUATING?

I’ve joined an alternative energy start-up, which I was consulting for in the last few years prior to graduation.

HOW DID YOUR EDUCATION AT ICME PREPARE YOU FOR WHAT YOU'RE DOING TODAY?

Quite a bit, indeed. I worked on Computer Graphics in the earlier years of my Stanford tenure. These days it’s helping me to process gigabytes of NOAA satellite imagery. My strong CFD background is empowering me to model the atmosphere. A parallel 3D Navier-Stokes solver, I’ve written from scratch for my Ph.D., allowed me to refine my coding skills, which are imperative in the industry.

WHEN YOU REFLECT BACK ON YOUR TIME AT ICME, WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST FONDLY?

My dear advisor, Professor Oliver Fringer. These days I genuinely miss our thoughtful weekly research meetings. Once in the real world, I’ve realized how important it was to have an advisor, who was able to see structure in this chaotic world.

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE, WHERE DO YOU ENVISION ICME STUDENTS FIT IN? 

I truly believe the future is bright for ICME students. As computers become increasingly ubiquitous, the need for modelling will arise in virtually any discipline with societal benefits.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR TODAY'S ICME STUDENTS?

Make sure you appreciate the present. It’s a blessing to be engaged in research at such an elite place as ICME. Also, make sure you get to know your classmates really well as they are the foundation of your lifelong network.


ICME Programs: MS '04 and PhD '13

Hometown: Kharkov, Ukraine

Profession: Head of Science, Locus Energy- Palo Alto, California

Other Accomplishments of Note:  Lieutenant of Tactical Ballistic Missile Forces