Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Julia Gillespie holding her dog

Julia Gillespie

Director of Finance & Operations
Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering
I’m the Director of Finance and Operations (DFO) for the Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering (ICME), which is a degree-granting interdisciplinary institute where students study mathematical modeling, scientific computing and advanced computational algorithms for engineering and science applications.

As DFO, it’s basically my job to make operations run as smoothly as possible. My day-to-day runs the gamut, but at its core, I’m organizing information, creating processes that are reasonable and straightforward, and assisting our staff with supporting students. 

My biggest objective is to make information as accessible and easy to digest as possible. When we see university- or SoE-level policies, I’m thinking through how those affect our institute and how we can use the systems that are in place to best benefit our students. I’ve always loved puzzles – and the challenges in my job are like figuring out how to put the pieces together. There are always constraints that might prevent you from getting things done exactly like you’d want – limited resources, time, policies – but I like being creative and figuring out how to accomplish things while still meeting all of the parameters I’m given. 

COVID really put that to the test – I was involved in planning our commencement. I only had a peripheral understanding of what was involved pre-pandemic and now it had to turn into a remote event. Together with my ICME colleagues, we pulled it off. But it was interesting to morph graduation to a Zoom meeting – trying to learn the intricacies of the platform, ensuring the event was secure, pumping in music and sound effects like clapping. I never thought I’d become a live event producer! But pulling things off well is exhilarating. 

That’s been the case over this past pandemic year. Our ICME team has not canceled events or given up. They’ve tirelessly reinvented the wheel, from admit weekend to orientation to our career matching events. They’ve learned and created new technical processes and procedures when it wasn’t required of them. I’ve been really proud of how our team has stuck together.

Related spotlights

Portrait of Thomas Colburn in a gray suit, standing outside on a sunny day in the engineering quad.

Thomas Colburn

PhD candidate
Materials Science and Engineering
I was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. We were surrounded by nature, so my siblings and friends and I spent a lot of time exploring the wilderness and getting lost in the woods.
Read Thomas Colburn's story
Adrienne sitting outside at a table, wearing a blue coat and smiling at the camera.

Adrienne Propp

PhD candidate
Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering
I never planned to become a mathematician. I liked math growing up because it made sense to me – plug this number into this equation here, and you’ll get an output that follows some predictable logic.
Read Adrienne Propp's story