Christoph Ortner


Research Interests

Numerical Analysis & Scientific Computing
Applied Analysis
Multi-scale Modelling and Coarse-graining
Molecular Simulation
Scientific Machine-learning, in particular for applications in multi-scale modelling

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

Scientific Computing
Pen and paper


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round

I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).
I am interested in hiring Co-op students for research placements.

Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!

Check requirements
  • Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
  • Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
Focus your search
  • Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
  • Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
    • Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
    • Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
Make a good impression
  • Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
    • Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
    • Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
  • Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
  • Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
  • Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
    • Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
    • Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
  • Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
Attend an information session

G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.



These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.

Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Parameter estimation for many-body potentials (2023)

We are interested in exploring the laws of interaction between atoms and molecules. In this thesis, we construct a model to predict the many-body interaction potential between atoms, given the averaged total potentials in an atomic cluster. This is an inverse problem because we are fitting against averaged observations of energy between many-body interactions. In a simplified setting with identically and independently distributed data, and defining an averaged basis that has the appropriate orthogonal property, the inverse problem is well-posed and can be solved with the least squares approximations in a numerically stable way. We perform numerical analysis to estimate the parameters and study the convergence of the approximation. Two-body and three-body interactions potential are studied as a motivation to generalize the framework for higher-order many-body interaction potentials with tensor product bases in the future.

View record

Implementation of a nonlinear Atomic Cluster Expansion (2022)

In this thesis, we present a proof of concept implementation of linear and nonlinlear models based on the Atomic Cluster Expansion (ACE) introduced in [16]. We introduce machine-learned interatomic potentials and derive the ACE as an atomic descriptor. This produces a model linear in its coefficient that serves to approximate the energies and forces of an atomic configuration. We train its coefficients for Silicon, Copper, and Molybdenum, and analyze the fit accuracy for energiesand forces benchmark training sets [37]. Furthermore, we extend the ACE model to approximate energies and forces through a nonlinear combination of linear ACE models. We describe how to implement this model, and in particular, how to efficiently compute the derivatives, and present example results for the same data sets. We summarize the Julia implementation of these nonlinear models and provide an overview of the direction the code base will take in the future.

View record



If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Discover the amazing research that is being conducted at UBC!