Now at EPFL
My research uses a combination of numerical simulations (LES), lab experiments, and analytical tools to tackle a wide range of environmental problems, including pollution and sediment dispersion in aquatic vegetations, coastal protection against extreme climatic events, and aerosol transport above the terrestrial vegetations.
Graduate Student (Ph.D. 2016)
Now: Postdoctoral Fellow at Cardiff University, Wales, UK (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship)
In some situations, vegetation and other porous structures are able to dampen wave energy and slow the progress of floodwaters, providing protection from increased rainfall and storm intensity. I seek to connect the flow and sediment transport through porous obstructions with environmental management and restoration efforts, increasing the efficiency and success of management interventions. At Cardiff University, I am working with Dr. Catherine Wilson to quantify the effect of engineered logjam installations on sediment storage and flow resistance.
Visiting Graduate Student (2015)
Now: Postdoctoral Scholar UCLA
My work uses Large Eddy Simulation (LES) to analyze the interaction between vegetation and environment. At MIT I examined the mass and momentum transfer associated with seagrass meadows and at UCLA I am studying kelp ecosystems.
Visiting Graduate Student (2014-2015)
Now: Hydraulic Engineering at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
Vegetation patches have a significant impact on bio-ecological and geomorphic processes through momentum and mass exchange that occurs between the vegetation patch and surrounding environment. My research is focused on how suspended sediment is deposited around a vegetation patch. Using an artificial rigid canopy and changing the flow conditions, I will examine the sediment distribution around the canopy.
Visiting Scholar (2017-2019)
Current Position: Associate Professor, Sichuan University, China
At MIT I investigated how the spacing between floating islands (FTIs) deployed in series along a channel impacts the velocity field and mass removal. A large island spacing leads to a higher inflow rate into the root zone, but a smaller number of FTIs per channel length. These competing trends produce an optimum spacing, corresponding to a maximum mass removal per channel length.
Visiting Student (2013-2014)
The mutual influences between biological and physical processes, called biogeomorphic feedbacks, play a key role in the landscape evolution. In the Nepf Lab I studied how neighboring patches of vegetation alter the flow field and promote deposition and growth into larger vegetation structures.
Graduate Student (S.M. September 2014)
My project at MIT examined the physical mechanisms controlling nutrient acquisition by submerged aquatic vegetation.
Graduate Student (S.M. May 2014)
Current Position: Senior Environmental Engineer at Gradient Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts
My research at MIT investigated the fluid mechanics of flow through and around patches of vegetation. I approached this first from an experimental perspective in the laboratory with my research partner Dieter Meire, who has since returned to Ghent University. We studied how finite patches of vegetation might grow into larger, cohesive structures through their own biogeomorphic feedbacks. I then expanded on this research by building a numerical model to evaluate how entire landscapes, such as wetlands, might evolve as a result of the underlying feedbacks we identified in the laboratory. The image shown at left is an example of channel formation that occurred organically in the model. As an environmental engineer at Gradient, I work with an environmental science team to model transport processes and understand the histories of contaminated sites, such as those covered under Superfund (CERCLA). With this information, we can suggest the most productive remedial measures for contaminated sites, or determine who is responsible for leading the cleanup of a site.
Graduate Student (Ph.D. 2013)
Current Position: Environmental Engineer at Gradient Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts
At MIT I studied the interplay between the shape of flexible aquatic plants, the dynamic motion of these plants in ocean currents, and how plant shape and plant motion combine to affect nutrient acquisition and uptake rates in aquatic environments. At Gradient, I’m working on a variety of projects relating to the fate and transport of chemicals in the environment, spanning both surface water and groundwater sites, and which require a variety of modeling techniques.
Visiting Student (2011-2012)
Current Position: Senior Engineer, Changjiang Institute of Survey Planning Design and Research, Wuhan, China
Vegetation density and patch dimension have a significant effect on the flow and vortex structure in the wake of vegetation patch, which can cause a different sediment transport behind the porous patch compared with transport in the interior vegetation zone. At MIT I studied the effect of different submergences and densities on flow and turbulence behind the porous patch with PIV technology.
For profiles of current lab members, visit the current members page.