Research

We study interdisciplinary fluid mechanics problems with broad applications. Some of the research questions we are currently studying are summarized below.

How do particles behave in wavy environments?

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 subtropical gyres of the world's oceans. Therefore, it is unknown where the rest of the plastic goes: how much ends up on our beaches? At what rate does plastic settle onto the ocean floor? What physics controls these processes? Our research focuses on understanding how plastic enters and leaves the ocean in order to better manage and mitigate plastics risk.

How do 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.

What can erupted products teach us about volcanoes?

To understand volcanic eruptions, we first need to understand steady state conditions before the eruption. We analyze crystals that form and aggregate within volcanic conduits to infer properties about the pre-eruptive flow in the conduit in which they formed. This is a collaboration with Prof. Jenny Suckale and SIGMA at Stanford.