Carolina Mathematics at the DFD meeting

Once again, the Department of Mathematics was well represented at the Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) meeting, held annually at the front of Thanksgiving week. Held this year in Pittsburgh, speakers from Carolina Mathematics (links click through to the abstracts of their talks) included faculty Roberto Camassa, Rich McLaughlin and Laura Miller; postdoctoral associate Shilpa Khatri; and graduate students Austin Baird, Nick Battistia, Alex HooverShannon Jones, Jeff Olander and Chung-Nan Tzou. An assortment of Department alumni also presented, including Shengqian Chen, Nick Moore, Reed Ogrosky, Arvind Santhanakrishnan, Ashwin Vaidya and Longhua Zhao.

One of the long-running traditions of the DFD meeting is the Gallery of Fluid Motion. This year’s entries in the Gallery included “Broad leaves in strong flow”, from Laura Miller and Arvind Santhanakrishnan (

Congratulations to all involved in this year’s meeting.

New grants awarded to the Department

A collection of new grant awards were made to faculty in the Department of Mathematics in the second half of 2012, further supporting our efforts in both research and training.

New Research Grants:

New Training Grant:

  • Shrawan Kumar led the effort to obtain a new Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need grant from the U.S. Department of Education, “Increasing the Participation of U.S. Citizens, Women and Minorities in Mathematics Doctoral Programs,” which provides for fellowships to graduate students in the Department of Mathematics.

The above only represents newly-awarded grants. Previous stories about grants describe some other recently-obtained awards, most of which support activities across multiple years, while a number of even older grants continue to support research and training activities in the Department.

Congratulations to all involved in these new grant awards.

Research presentations at Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting

Carolina Mathematics will be well represented next week at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) in San Diego. Professors Roberto Camassa, Greg Forest, Rich McLaughlin, and Laura Miller, along with multiple undergraduate researchers, graduate students, and postdoctoral trainees from their research groups will present their latest research findings. The DFD is regularly one of the most important fluid dynamics meetings of the year, with presentations provided by a broadly interdisciplinary collection of international scientists, and the numerous contributions from Carolina Mathematics is consistent with the strong presence of applied mathematics in our Department.

Visualization plays an important role in fluid dynamics, as exemplified here with photographs from the poster “Pancake vortices formed by a plume trapped in sharp stratification” by Carolina undergraduates Michael Baker, Johnny Reis and Jeremy Ward (in collaboration with others in the Joint Fluids Laboratory) and with images of vorticity contours and velocity vectors from swimming and turning jellyfish by Laura Miller’s group.

Scheduled research presentations representing Carolina Mathematics (information about contributors available from links):

2011-12 Recap: New research grants awarded to Mathematics faculty

Following up on the good news in last week’s post about the NSF MRI award to the Fluids Lab, we are overdue to celebrate the variety of new federal research grants awarded to faculty in the Department of Mathematics over the past year.

This list represents only new awards led out of the Department in the one-year period ending June 30, 2012. Importantly, as many such awards are for multiple years, it does not include the many continuing research grants in the Department that were initially awarded in previous years. The list also likely misses some interdisciplinary activities in the Department that are in collaboration with faculty in other departments where the proposal was sent through the other department. Even without these caveats, it is an impressive list for the year.

Where available, hyperlinks to more information about the specific award are provided.

National Science Foundation:

Air Force Office of Scientific Research:

  • Greg Forest & Peter Mucha, Multiscale Mathematics of Nano-Particle-Endowed Active Membranes and Films

Army Research Office:

  • Jim Damon, Comparing Mathematical Models and Experimental Data for Intake Capacity Distributions for Plant Root Structures

National Institute of General Medical Sciences:

Office of Naval Research:

  • Roberto Camassa & Rich McLaughlin, A Desalinization Facility for Stratified Fluid Dynamics Research at the UNC Joint Fluids Laboratory
  • Chris Jones, Data Assimilation and Control in Oceanography

Congratulations to all involved!

Fluids Lab MRI Award

The UNC Joint Fluids Lab has been awarded a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant from the National Science Foundation, titled MRI: Development of Pneumatic Water Wave Genesis, a versatile wavemaker for the UNC Joint Fluids Lab. With this award, Roberto Camassa and Richard McLaughlin from Mathematics, Brian White from Marine Sciences, and Leandra Vicci from Computer Science will together build a potentially transformative new device for generating both surface waves and internal waves in stratified water. The new device will move water acting only through pneumatically controlled air flows instead of moving objects such as pistons or paddles as in current wave-generator technology. This will dramatically extend the range of scientific research capabilities and activities in the Joint Fluids Lab’s modular wave tank, which was established by a previous MRI award.

Views of the NSF MRI modular wavetank in the Joint Fluids Lab

Camassa, as lead principal investigator of the award, enthusiastically notes that “this beautiful device designed by Lea Vicci, to her credit, will be built finally with NSF support.”

Congratulations to Camassa, McLaughlin, Vicci and White on these continuing developments in the Joint Fluids Lab.

2011-12 Recap: Fluids Lab in National Geographic News

Oil jets pre-mixed with soap are injected into stratified fluid, mimicking the internal spreading of a Gulf oil plume. Photograph by Steve Harenberg, Rich McLaughlin, Johnny Reis, William Schlieper, Will Owens, Brian White, UNC Joint Fluids Laboratory and Carolina Center for Interdisciplinary Applied Mathematics

On the second anniversary of the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that caused the Gulf oil spill, National Geographic News profiled work in the UNC Joint Fluids Laboratory that describes how dispersants break oil into micro-droplets that can be suspended in underwater layers. This research was led by Profs. Richard McLaughlin and Roberto Camassa in the Department of Mathematics and Prof. Brian White in the Department of Marine Sciences.

2011-2012 Recap: UNC Science Expo

Continuing the theme of outreach from last week’s post, we have a few pictures to share from the UNC Science Expo held on April 14, 2012. The Department of Mathematics participated strongly this year, with a number of tables in the courtyard in front of Chapman Hall and multiple demonstrations in the Joint Fluids Laboratory in the basement of Chapman.

Prof. Laura Miller demonstrates the wind tunnel in the Joint Fluids Laboratory,

while Prof. Roberto Camassa perches over the wave tank,