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Engineering professor wins major international award in fluid dynamics

From left, research assistants Tunc Goruney, Jason Foust and Philip Breneman work with Donald Rockwell.

Donald Rockwell has received another international accolade for his research into the physics of fluid flows.

Rockwell, the Paul B. Reinhold Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, has been chosen to receive the 2013 Fluid Dynamics Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The award is for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the behavior of liquids and gases in motion as related to needs in aeronautics and astronautics. It cites Rockwell for advancing the “fundamental understanding of vortex dominated flows and their characterization with quantitative imaging.”

Rockwell will receive the award at AIAA’s meeting in June in San Diego, and will deliver the Fluid Dynamics Award Lecture.

AIAA, the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession, has more than 38,000 members from 86 countries.

Rockwell and his graduate students and visiting scientists have earned international recognition for illuminating the complex physics of vortices that occur in a range of flows—from the breaking of ocean waves to the beating of insect wings to the flow of blood from a catheter.

In Lehigh’s Fluids Research Laboratory, they were the first researchers to quantitatively reveal the flow patterns of a variety of vortex systems using laser-based imaging techniques and image processing. Their work applies to pollution in bodies of shallow water, to the interaction of ocean waves with oil-drilling platforms, to micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs) and to other phenomena.

In 2010, Experiments in Fluids, the premiere journal in the field of experimental fluid mechanics, dedicated an entire issue—28 refereed articles and more than 350 pages—to Rockwell for his contributions to the journal and to the field of fluid mechanics.

Rockwell served 15 years as the journal’s editor, including eight as editor in-chief.

In his career at Lehigh, Rockwell has advised 37 Ph.D. students, 17 of whom are now faculty members at universities in 10 different countries. He has worked with researchers around the world, including Australia, England, Germany, Japan and Turkey. His research has been funded over the past three decades by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. In addition, he has directed programs sponsored by NASA, the Volkswagen Foundation and Lockheed-Martin.

Rockwell earned his M.S. from Lehigh in 1965 and his Ph.D. in 1968. He was appointed to the faculty in 1970.
 


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Story by Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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