At Purdue, my research focuses on high-Mach boundary layers. Specifically, I am studying laminar-turbulent transition in hypersonic boundary layers using direct numerical simulation (DNS). DNS provides a high-fidelity flowfield simulation which captures all the relevant physics occurring within a physical domain – a critical capability for understanding fluid flows at hypersonic velocities. In this high-Mach range, the fundamental physics of air itself start to misbehave – chemical reactions and heat transfer become dominant effects, and traditional models break down. Traditional analytic tools and simplified computational approaches have thus far proven largely inadequate to analyzing the complexity of hypersonic flows (especially the transition problem), so the prospect of resolving some of the decades-old mysteries in the field using new capabilities in large DNS is tremendously exciting. Better computational tools are directly linked to the industry’s ability to design, test, and operate hypersonic vehicle concepts which have remained tantalizingly out of reach for the better part of a century.
von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics
My work at VKI has focused on the application of stability theory – a set of simplified equations for studying the growth of perturbations in fluid flows – to hypersonic boundary layers. Specifically, I am looking at using stability theory to predict transition on the walls of conventional hypersonic wind tunnels and on test articles in high-speed ground tests. This work parallels my primary doctoral research using DNS, a much higher-fidelity tool.
At NASA’s Glenn Research Center, I work in the Propulsion Systems Analysis Branch. My colleagues and I perform high-level systems analyses of transformative aeronautics concepts to help the Agency and the industry chart a course forward. My work in particular supports the Agency’s burgeoning hypersonics research – I perform cycle analysis of high-speed airbreathing engines for integration into a combined-cycle test vehicle. As with most of the work which occurs in my branch, this is a preliminary effort to study feasibility and explore a potential design space, rather than a concerted design effort – with all the unknowns surrounding practical hypersonic flight, there is a lot of work to do simply to understand what is and isn’t possible from a systems perspective.
While an undergraduate at Lehigh University, I worked in both the Bionanomechanics Lab and the Aerospace Systems Lab. In the former, I studied novel ways to produce microfluidic devices using single-exposure greyscale lithography. This technology allows for shallow three-dimensional geometries to be created from photosensitive resin in a single exposure, enabling rapid production of microfluidic “lab on a chip” devices which could be used for diagnoses and medical tests in the field.
In the Aerospace Systems lab, I served as a research assistant, supervising tests done in the lab’s closed-loop subsonic wind tunnel. I helped collect and analyze data on a variety of test articles for a new gun-launched surveillance drone, and helped to upgrade the facility by designing and installing a new pressure transducer system and remotely-adjustable four-bar linkage sting balance mount.