In engineering, a dynamical system has a multitude of meanings. Fluid flow in the human body is considered to be such a system, as well as pollution and pathogens that travel through the air. In fact, atmospheric and aquatic environments provide a dynamical system for a plethora of biological activities. Even the motions of a basketball team or the shuffle of dollars through the economy constitute a dynamical system.
For the past eight years, since receiving his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, Shane Ross, now an assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech, has focused his career on determining these various types of behavior and how to more successfully predict what many once believed to simply be chaotic motion.
Based on his activities and ideas, the National Science Foundation has awarded Ross one of its coveted 2012 CAREER Awards, valued at $420,000 over the next five years, to determine how to develop better engineering tools to understand and predict fluid motions.
What often appears to be a random flow of particles can be characterized more effectively, allowing scientists and engineers to have a better understanding and control over areas such as airborne spread of disease agents, Ross said about his motivation for the proposed work. "Many fluid flows have a transport network that may not be obvious. By elucidating this network using mathematical tools we can reveal previously hidden patterns of complex motion in flows," Ross said.
As part of an effort to integrate research and education, Ross plans to develop an unusual project-based graduate course, designed to broaden the application of concepts from dynamical systems theory to practical problems, which will bring together engineering students, non-engineering students, and faculty from varied disciplines across Virginia Tech for team-based projects.
|Contact: Lynn Nystrom|