Spring 2023 celebrations

UT adjusted the academic calendar this year, meaning we’re already a week into “summer” in Texas! A lot happened this semester. We won some grants (woohoo, NSF CAREER for stratified mixing! And some others that aren’t yet “official” so we’ll stay hush…). We submitted two papers from the JETlab – both very turbulence-focused, my favorite!  And one more for a UT Geosciences student who did fascinating experiments on lofting density currents – fascinating (and difficult) experiments. Aubrey melted her beautiful clear ice spheres in spectacular fashion, and are in the midst of testing a new turbulence sensor. Arefe was offered a position at the WHOI GFD program for this summer, and we could not be more proud of her being selected!

Group photo of JETlab! With 2 of our alumni

Thankfully travel mostly subsided after a very busy Fall and Winter of seminars and conferences for all of us. I still got to see a few of my favorite colleagues and collaborators at small meetings this spring. I was asked to serve on a PhD committee for a Music Composition student — and now it is my goal to serve on ALL of the music PhD committees, because the students are so immensely talented, and the “exam” includes a free concert!  No better way to spend an evening.

photo of water leaking out the side of one of the glass panels in the flume

And ….. we finally resurrected the 1972 flume!  Po-Chen and I wrapped up final details — sealing up the ends, and installing a drain — and filled the flume at the start of May. The first day (only with maybe 1/2″ of water) there were no leaks! But also the water was going straight to the drain/sewer, since we didn’t have a way to plug the pipe.  Then once we closed it and could do a proper fill the following week, a few little Niagara Falls opened up.  But for the 22m (give or take a few … we need to measure) length, with some amateur flume-retrofitters, I think we did a spectacular job. We still have a few fixes to come – somehow wires got crossed so the pump now flows BACKWARDS (you can’t make this stuff up…), and the motor smells like fire… realized it hasn’t been tended to in at least 25 years, if not more?  And of course, leaks to fix. But water is moving, and I am pretty proud that we’ve made it this far on a very bare bones budget, with zero “professional” help.

I am more than ready for summer! Our 3 PhD students are doing fantastic work – with our first anticipated graduation in August!  I am looking forward to many more flume days, leaks included, as we do the final touches to say we successfully retrofit a flume. I’ll have a brief trip to WHOI and a couple little vacations. And hopefully several more paper submissions before our new JETlab students join us in August.