Long overdue JETlab updates!

We’ve had a lot to celebrate this past year, so let’s touch on some of the highlights!

Summer 2023 was relatively calm but full of learning. Aubrey worked tirelessly to finish her dissertation, while Po-Chen persisted with data analysis and testing of a new turbulence sensor (details hopefully forthcoming, pending our next tests!). Meanwhile, Arefe spent the summer at the WHOI GFD program, as a Fellow!  She spent the summer back in the land of numerical modeling, looking at internal waves and all things stratified. I got to visit for two weeks of seminars and time with collaborators, and loved spending some time in Cape Cod.

In August 2023, the JETlab graduated our first* Ph.D., the fabulous Aubrey McCutchan!  Her defense went smoothly, and was an extremely proud moment as she taught us all about ice melting in turbulence, and her hopes/goals to integrate her findings into glacier melt models and improve the accuracy of models so we can all get a more realistic view of sea level rise. Sadly we forgot to take a photo of the big moment (here is one from when she started 5 years ago!), but all the forms were signed to make it official. Aubrey’s second paper was published in the Fall, about her homogeneous isotropic turbulence tank that she tuned to perfection.  (*I’ll also note that we also minted a Ph.D. a few years back with Yongsik, who started his grad school studies with colleague Ben Hodges. Ben and I co-supervised Yongsik as he wrapped up his dissertation … so Aubrey is the first Ph.D. from start to finish in our group!)

The JETlab briefly shrunk by 1, with Aubrey’s graduation. Then we quickly brought in two new students in September – welcome Biman and Hiromu! Biman is starting his Ph.D., studying buoyant plumes on our NSF-funded project (with collaborator Alexis Kaminski at Berkeley). He’s been diligently going through data that I collected with Po-Chen, Riley, and Ella, as he is  learning all about image processing. Hiromu is starting his Masters and has taken over Aubrey’s turbulence tank. Just this week he set up our PIV system again, and we’ll have ice back in the tank soon for our next set of experiments!

In November, Arefe and I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the APS-DFD conference, where we got to reunite with many of our favorite fluid mechanicians, including former-JETlabber Julio! I presented Aubrey’s latest ice melting experiments (paper coming soon, fingers crossed…) and Arefe gave a killer talk on mixing in stratified turbulence. The three days flew by with lots of knowledge, laughter, and wonderful connections. After APS, I squeezed in a little Thanksgiving excursion, and then got to attend the SERDP Symposium in Arlington. It was great to connect with lots of sediment/nearshore folks, and see the NRL-Stennis crew in full force.

We have one more key celebration from December, with the publishing of Arefe’s first paper! Her review paper is now in the new journal Flow, and we hope it’ll be a great resource for experimentalists and modelers alike who are interested in turbulence generation. Cheers to Arefe.

We all got a little bit of rest over winter break, and then in January welcomed another new Masters student, Alexandra Stephens!  Alex has joined our Army Corps / USCRP project and is getting up to speed on surface PIV, turbulence, waves, and swash dynamics. She’ll be running tests in our large outdoor flume in preparation for experiments at ERDC next summer, with a great team led by Ryan Mieras at UNC Wilmington. We also had a fun two-day set of tests on our outdoor flume working with a Houston-based company.

It’s been extremely fun having the group back to 5 members this semester, and to have so much energy in the lab with all of our projects running in various stages. We’ve also had a shuffling of our undergrad research assistants, with Riley stepping down this semester and Ella jumping back in, after returning from a semester abroad in Spain, and Kavya joining the crew with a research fellowship from the department.  We have a few papers in review right now, and are doing our best to share the discoveries of the JETlab with the world. I have also officially kicked off the process of applying for tenure, and am asking for all good vibes and crossed fingers throughout the process. Arefe, Po-Chen, and I will be seeing y’all at Ocean Sciences a week from now, and I’ll get back to posting our updates when I can!

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