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.
Graduate Student (Ph.D. 2012)
Now: Professor, University of Southern California
At MIT I studied the flow-induced reconfiguration of flexible aquatic vegetation through a combination of theoretical analysis and laboratory experiments. Many species of aquatic vegetation are flexible: they are pushed over into streamlined postures by currents, and they move passively with the flow for parts of a wave cycle. In addition to limiting the drag generated by the vegetation (advantageous in high flow environments!), this passive reconfiguration also influences light availability and nutrient uptake. By generating drag and reducing near-bed flow, aquatic vegetation limits erosion and provides shelter for fauna. By producing oxygen and taking up excess nutrients from the water, aquatic vegetation can prevent dangerous eutrophication and anoxia. As a result, an improved knowledge of vegetation reconfiguration can help coastal engineers quantify the ability of aquatic vegetation to provide habitat and prevent erosion, and help ecologists understand how flow affects the health of aquatic vegetation.
Postdoctoral Fellow (2011-2012)
Now: McKinsey & Company, Luxembourg Office
The objective of my research is to assess the actual impact of vegetation on both the turbulent structure of the flow at the bed and its capacity to affect the bed load transport.
Graduate Student (S.M. 2011)
Now: Project Manager, China Development Bank, Beijing, China
At MIT I used laboratory experiments to study the deposition of sediment in a partially vegetated shallow channel.
Graduate Student (Ph.D. 2010)
Now: Executive Director, Ping An Overseas Holdings
At MIT I used experiments and modeling to evaluate the impacts of vegetation on the thermally-driven exchange flows. The presence of vegetation may shelter the water and reduce the incident solar radiation, generating spatial gradients in water temperature. In addition, the vegetation provides significant drag that may reduce the magnitude of resulting exchange flows.
Graduate Student (Ph.D. 2006)
Now: Professor of Marine Sciences, UNC -Chapel Hill
My current research focuses on the fluid dynamics of the ocean, specifically buoyancy-driven flows, turbulent mixing and eddies and their influence on global climate. I am also interested in physical-biological interactions in coastal and estuarine systems, particularly toward making our coasts more climate-resilient.
Graduate Student (Ph.D. 2007)
At MIT I studied the hydrodynamics of treatment wetlands and coastal wetlands.
For profiles of current lab members, visit the current members page.