Congrats to James, and kicking off summer 2022!

It’s been a big semester for the JETlab!  We are excited to report a newly-minted Masters of Science for James Holyoke, who wrote a fantastic thesis covering two important topics – design of portable median barriers for flood zones, and tracking edge features in buoyant plumes to develop remote sensing techniques.  James will be sorely missed at UT, but we are glad to have had two years of work together in Austin! Congrats, James!

We also have three Ph.D. candidates in the group, with Po-Chen passing his Quals last semester and successfully applying to Candidacy this spring!

James, Arefe, Aubrey, Po-Chen, and Blair standing inside of the flume

What else happened this semester?  Arefe and Blair virtually attended the Ocean Sciences Meeting that would have been held in Hawaii if we weren’t still in the midst of a global pandemic.  Arefe gave an excellent talk on stratified mixing in the Nearshore Processes session, and Blair presented Po-Chen’s project on sediment transport.  Meanwhile, Po-Chen and Blair wrapped up their SERDP project with lots of glorious freeze-coring of colored sands and some sneaky PIV maneuvers, which we’re still going to keep under wrap until we work out some bugs!  But it was a fun semester with lots of lab experiments and tons of learning.  Everyone is in the midst of writing papers and running tests, and blossoming into talented, capable, and confident scientists.   We also enjoyed a number of happy hours and dinners to stay sane along the way 🙂

And finally, we’ve made progress in renovating our 1972 flume, after MANY years of frustration and preparations.  We aren’t done yet, but stay tuned to Blair’s twitter for updates – #JETlab and #1972flume will show you all you need to know.

Blair is presently enjoying the start of summer living in New Orleans and working at the Naval Research Lab at Stennis as an ONR faculty fellow.  She (I … I never know whether to write this in first person or third!) was thrilled to receive the CAEE department teaching award this Spring semester, and is determined to go into year 5 at UT with lots of hope for wonderful things to continue.

Celebrations for Fall 2021

We are thrilled to wrap up 2021 with several celebrations across the group for a successful semester, despite the ongoing pandemic, continued lab renovations, and the odd things that keep experimental fluid mechanics researchers awake at night.  Some of our highlights include:

In October, Ph.D. candidates Aubrey and Arefe traveled to the Young Coastal Scientists and Engineers Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC, where Aubrey won an award for her excellent poster on turbulence and ice melting, and Arefe gave a fantastic oral presentation of her stratified mixing research. Well done, friends!

Arefe and I then traveled to Phoenix, AZ, for the American Physical Society – Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in November. This was my first in-person conference in 21 months, and I could not have been more excited. Arefe did a fantastic job presenting her poster and meeting some of the folks we’ve only read about. It was an incredible joy to share science together and to have so many meals and outings with our colleagues and friends we’ve missed so dearly.

One of my favorite things that has blossomed during the pandemic (but hopefully will stick around for years to come!) is a weekly writing group between women fluid mechanics professors at various institutions. We finally met in-person together for the first time at APS, and I can honestly say I have not smiled that big in years. We’ve been through many paper/proposal submissions, acceptances, and rejections together, and it is comforting to have the support of such brilliant and kind people on a regular basis.

With that, let’s wrap up 2021 and continue on next year. Loads of gratitude for my students and colleagues who make this job such a joy!

Congrats to Julio!

It has been a minute since we’ve updated the site — and we owe belated congratulations to Julio Chavez Dorado on completion of his Masters thesis this summer!  Julio was a valuable member of the JETlab for the past 2 years on a Fulbright scholarship.  His work on surface velocimetry in our outdoor flume was tricky, but he was determined throughout and learned a ton about image processing along the way.  This past month, Julio traded Austin for Seattle to begin his PhD at the University of Washington!  We will miss him dearly, but are so glad he’s staying in Fluid Mechanics so that we can continue to rendezvous at conferences in the coming years.

With Julio’s graduation, the JETlab is down to 3 PhD students (all of whom have passed their qualifying exams, WOOHOO!) and 1 Masters student, but we’ve gained several wonderful new undergraduate members!  I realize we missed doing a formal post to welcome Po-Chen to our crew — he had a staggered start, due to international travel restrictions and Visa delays thanks to the pandemic, but he’s been in Austin since January already and we are so glad to work with him.  I am happy to report that we’ve finally recovered to what feels like “normal” lab operations for the first time since the pandemic shutdown in March 2020. I am also thrilled that we are allowed to have undergraduate researchers in the lab again — it was such a loss having those personnel restrictions in place.  Of course we acknowledge the safety concerns, but it really stank.  Hopefully soon it will all be a distant memory.  We are still doing many zoom meetings, but all get to cross paths in the lab and for occasional celebratory dinners.

In the mean time, experiments are going strong – fluorescent dyes all over the place to visualize stratified layers in turbulence mixing experiments, to visualize plumes to develop remote sensing techniques, and much more.  We have several in-person conferences coming up this Fall for the first time since winter 2019/2020, and can’t wait to see our friends and colleagues in 3D again!

May Celebrations!

Howdy all, and welcome to the end of spring semester!  There were many highlights and causes for celebration this semester, though sadly several of those didn’t get to happen in person due to covid19.  Let’s list a few of them to share the joys (and acknowledge the non-joys) of Spring 2020.

In February, I attended the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego!  It was wonderful to see my Nearshore friends and colleagues all in the same room – definitely got the wheels churning for future projects and collaborations.  If only there were more time!  I was also thrilled to reconnect with several of my EFMH colleagues from Cornell, pictured here.  I had planned an extra weekend mini-vacation with that trip — and I am glad it happened, because little did we know travel would be halted indefinitely with the rapid spread of coronavirus.  Logged many miles exploring southern California’s beaches and consumed a LOT of fish tacos.

In March, we had to put the JETlab to sleep.  We initially stayed open through Spring Break with many social distancing and safety requirements in place.  While we were still running, on March 19, Aubrey finished building her new tank and a fantastic addition to the lab – our mini homogeneous isotropic turbulence tank, presently called the J-20 for the 20 jets that run it.  She was able to collect lots of PIV data, and then on March 24th, 3pm, we locked it up not knowing when we’d be back.  Sweet dreams, turbulence!

Zoom meetings commenced, and thankfully we all stayed healthy and relatively happy.  Some new hobbies emerged, post-seminar zoom happy hours were held, and we all made the most of it.  (And we are still doing this, as I write!)

In April, we had several bits of awesome JETlab news.  Aubrey was awarded the NSF GRFP, which means she has full funding to move forward with her PhD!  I could not be more proud – she’s incredibly deserving and has a bright path ahead for sure.  Congrats, Aubrey!

I was relieved to have a JFM paper published – finally all of my PhD work is “officially” done, years after graduation.  We can share videos of sand and turbulence and all of it now, no secrets left!  I was also awarded another grant for the lab, so we may continue studying median barriers in flood-prone areas, a project that we hope continues to evolve so we can better serve our coastal communities in Texas .. and elsewhere.

Then May emerged – with three of our JETlabbers officially becoming Masters of Engineering!  Congratulations to Hannah, Greg, and Aubrey for writing fantastic theses of your work over the past two years.  Admittedly we were not able to “finish” some parts due to the lab closure, but they all did excellent work from day 1. I am sad to see our group shrink – Greg will be moving on to complete his PhD with Lina Sela – thankfully still in the same building – but will be switching over from experiments to remote sensing.  Hannah will be working for Exxon (staying in Texas, mostly, woohoo!) and Aubrey will be a PhD student in our group, effective immediately.  Two years with them absolutely flew by.  They’ve taught me a lot and have brought a lot of laughter and great memories to the lab.  Sadly we don’t have a group graduation photo, but here are some of my favorite action shots with them.

And with that, we’ve concluded another semester of research, writing, teaching, seminars, conferences, etc.  We’ve probably made about 8,247 mistakes in the lab thus far, and that number will only continue to rise once it’s safe for us to continue working in there again.  Cheers!

2019 Celebrations

Happy new year, folks!  It was a busy and wonderful Fall semester in the JETlab – it flew by, with many travel highlights along the way, some of which include:

September:

  • THESIS2019 conference at the University of Delaware (thanks to Tom Hsu!), where Hannah gave her first presentation and poster, and we nerded out with our favorite sediment transport friends from around the world.

 

  • JETlab group dinner!  We welcomed two new students, Arefe and Julio, to the crew.

October:

  • I visited UIUC to give a seminar, toured my PhD colleague Rafael Tinoco‘s amazing EEL lab, then Rafael came to UT the next week to do the same!
  • I officially started my first lead PI grant, from SERDP!  It’s a one-year SEED grant, involving fluidization of a sediment bed in turbulence and the potential to exhume buried munitions .. stay tuned.

November:

  • APS-DFD conference in Seattle with my favorite fluid mechanicians!  Part of the Cornell EFMH crew (+ Berkeley) pictured.

  • Gave seminars at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, with Thanksgiving spent wandering around downtown Vancouver, gorging on sushi and oysters. Many thanks to Greg Lawrence, Jason Olsthoorn, Jeremy Venditti, and Lizzie Dingle for making my Canada trip happen and showing me your fabulous labs!

December:

  • Traveled to the SERDP-ESTCP symposium in DC, which was wonderfully eye-opening on the DoD’s environmental interests.
  • Traveled to the AGU Fall Meeting in SF, where Luisa, Aubrey, and Greg gave fantastic talks and posters.  And I guess I did too, in the #FlumeFriday session.  Caught up with many of the Cowen EFMH crew from Cornell, always a great time.

We also have two December graduates of EWRE from the JETlab.  Luisa Florez and Andrew Jaeger successfully completed their MS degrees, woot woot!!  Starting in January, Luisa will be working for BP in Houston, and Andrew will be the lead Engineer of the Coast Guard in Corpus Christi. I’m selfishly glad all my graduates have stayed in Texas so far, since it means I don’t have to say goodbye yet.  We don’t have a December ceremony, so … no graduation photos, sadly.

A few of us did a little hike at McKinney Falls State Park over winter break:

There were many other memorable moments in the lab – joyful, curious, disastrous, and hilarious.  I’m very thankful to my students, as always, for their positive attitudes, troubleshooting skills, and love of learning.

Cheers to a wonderful start to 2020!

Congratulations, Junior and Yongsik!

With the end of the semester, we have some exciting news and a few farewells!

Many many congratulations to my very first Masters student, Junior Lagade, Jr., who submitted a lovely thesis and made my first year and a half as an assistant professor a true joy.  Junior will be staying in Austin to work as an environmental engineer, and I am hoping to finally attend one of his hip-hop dance classes.

Huge congratulations also to Yongsik Kim  for a fantastic Ph.D. defense and graduation!  Yongsik did a dam-good project (ha..) on pressure flushing and I hope we can still rendezvous on future travels.  Yongsik is working in South Korea and in charge of many dam projects throughout the country.  We sadly didn’t get a graduation day photo.

It has been a productive and fun semester in the lab, playing with liquid nitrogen, getting sugar pretty much everywhere, using intense black lights, watching tadpoles come out of the flume pumps, all sorts of joys that I’ll eventually update on the Research page.  We are making progress having more and more tanks in the lab and trying to plug the million leaks that go along with them.  Stay tuned to #flumefriday posts on Twitter for the good stuff.

Thanks for an excellent semester to my 2018 and 2019 JETlabbers!  (Yongsik we will photoshop you in from Korea one day!)

Outdoor flume renovation complete!

After many many hours of sledgehammering, drilling, shoveling, and carrying out tons of rocks, sand, rotten wood, and the works, the outdoor flume is back in action.  This is a very beautiful sight, thanks to the dedication and hard work of a crew of undergraduate civil engineering students (thanks to Kelly, Lorenzo, Marco, James, Sanjiv, and Jhoneil) and all my current JETlab students (Junior, Luisa, Greg, Andrew, Hannah, and Aubrey).  It looks brand new.

 

Thankfully we had some great 80+ degree weather in the middle of February to finish everything up.

One final before shot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some action shots:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ll be putting some test median barriers in here in the next month or so — stay tuned!

AGU 2018

Happy happy new year!

The semester kicks off tomorrow … 9:30am lecture for Elementary Fluid Mechanics!  But before we start, we have congrats in order for my first two Masters students on another conference well done. In December, Junior, Luisa, and I attended AGU 2018 in Washington, DC.  They each gave wonderful poster presentations on their Masters work, and I had a poster on some shock-tube results from my postdoc.

We also caught up with part of the Cowen EFMH crew from Cornell.  We have two current Ithacans, Katie and Seth, as well as one of my favorite Illinois professors, Rafael.  Always a joy to get part of the group back together!

 

Renovation Updates!!

My students have asked for a website update to reflect all of our collective progress the past few months.  Indeed there are near-daily improvements happening in the lab, so let’s celebrate some major milestones.  In no particular order:

Nearly overnight, we have grown from 3 students to 7.  Welcome to Hannah, Aubrey, Greg, and Andrew, profiles to be posted soon!

The outdoor flume (home of the TxDOT concrete median barrier project) is under renovations to remove old equipment and prepare it for our large scale tests.  I have wonderful undergraduate students who have been doing some intense sledgehammering.

 

Our indoor flume from 1972 has seen a lot of work — lead paint is now dealt with and the cracked and damaged glass panels have been removed.  Windows have been cut through the steel base so we can shoot lasers up through the bottom, and … it has been painted green, because why not. It’s beautiful. In another week or  wo the new acrylic liners should be installed so we can maybe get water back in — fingers crossed!  It is remarkable.

 

 

And finally, the actual “JET Lab” is built and already a mess, meaning – research is happening! Wires are being spliced, fishtanks are housing mini-experiments (while the big tanks are being manufactured), lasers and cameras and dyes and all sorts of goodies are arriving in the mail every day.  It is a beautiful lab and I have had an incredible amount of support from Facilities, the Cockrell School, my department and center, and the contractors who have come in to make this a reality.  And of course, my students, who are always willing to get their hands wet.  I am beyond thrilled.

First proposal awarded!

Summer is passing far too quickly, as always, but progress is being made one day at a time.  My lab is almost fully complete (and it’s really really beautiful!), flume renovations are in the works, money is being spent on lovely new tools and devices, and research is happening. I got to see old friends and make new ones at conferences in June – first at the 8th  International Symposium on Environmental Hydraulics at Notre Dame, and then at the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography meeting in Victoria, BC.  Next up will be the AGU Fall Meeting, once we have new experimental data!

In mid-June, I found out that my first real proposal was awarded, and so come spring 2019, we’ll be testing concrete median barriers. Woohoo!!  Wait, concrete median barriers and environmental fluid mechanics?  Why?  Well, during and after Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, there was heavy rain (an understatement) and terrible flooding.  There were areas where the concrete median barriers, which normally serve for crash protection between lanes of oncoming traffic, instead acted as dams and prevented floodwaters from draining across the highway.  There are phenomenal photos (I have no public ones from Texas, but here’s a photo/article of a similar event in Louisiana) where you can see half of the highway completely flooded up to the height of the barrier, while the other half is dry and open to traffic.  We are partnering with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to design median barriers with holes in them, so the water can pass through efficiently and improve flood conditions (this is the hydraulics part!).  They still have to be structurally sound and crash proof, so once we develop a barrier capable of handling flood conditions, we also get to crash giant trucks into them and see how they hold up.  How cool is that.  No Navier-Stokes equations will be endangered during this process, but … it’ll be pretty awesome if we make something that works that then ends up on actual Texas highways.  Fingers crossed!