We study interdisciplinary fluid mechanics problems with broad applications to the ocean and environment.

A few of the research questions we are currently studying are summarized below.

How do waves and turbulence together affect particle transport in the ocean?

Particulate matter in the ocean is ubiquitous: sediment, ice crystals, plankton, and microplastics are examples of small particles that do not necessarily behave as passive tracers. Of interest is how ocean waves affect their transport and dispersal. For example, we explore how waves can actually enhance the dispersal and settlement of inertial particles under waves. We also study how waves induce a preferential orientation in non-spherical particles, and the implications this may have on a variety of systems.

Where do microplastics go in the ocean?

Only a fraction of the predicted plastic that enters the ocean is expected to be found in the open ocean subtropical gyres (or "garbage patches"). Our research focuses on trying to understand and predict where the rest of the plastic goes. In particular, we want to describe the physical processes that control how much ends up on our beaches, at what rate it settles onto the ocean floor, and how fast it degrades. The research outcomes of this work will enhance our understanding of how plastic enters and leaves the ocean in order to better manage and mitigate risk.

How do small swimmers, such as plankton, behave and navigate in turbulence?

Zooplankton, such as the larvae of benthic invertebrates, exist at intermediate scales relative to their turbulent environment. Therefore, they have adapted complex and variable swimming behaviors to navigate in these conditions. Using experimental and numerical experiments, we study how their unsteady behavior in unsteady flows affects their transport and dispersal. Our findings will inform bio-inspired-designs of navigational strategies in turbulent flows.

General research interests: environmental fluid mechanics, particle-laden flows, non-spherical particles, surface wave flows, turbulence, microswimmers, plankton, microplastics, particle dispersal.