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.