16th ERCOFTAC Da Vinci Competition 2021 - Winner

Cristian Ricardo Constante-Amores 
(Imperial College, United Kingdom)

"Three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics simulations of complex multiphase flows with surfactants"

  • What is the topic of your PhD thesis?

The overarching theme of my Ph.D. thesis was to study the physics of interface breakup and coalescence, which exemplify situations wherein the interface undergoes topological transitions. These transitions involve the development of singularities where interfacial distances vanish and velocity fields diverge, requiring highly-specialised numerics. By using a hybrid front-tracking/level-set method to treat the interfacial dynamics, I have accounted not only for surface tension forces, but those arising from the presence of interfacial surfactant concentration gradients that lead to Marangoni stresses, to analyse a number of industrially-relevant phenomena post-break and within a three-dimensional framework. My Ph.D. also focused on the theoretical study of vortex-interface-surfactant interactions for turbulent jets.

  • What motivates you in your work?

When it comes to fluid mechanics, my motivation is fueled by a deep curiosity about the intricacies of how fluids behave and interact in various situations. This curiosity pushes me to continuously expand my knowledge. A pivotal moment in my journey occurred two years ago when I had the opportunity to attend a seminar about the "dynamical systems view" of fully turbulence. This seminar profoundly struck me igniting a passion within me to further explore this area of fluid mechanics. It was an enlightening revelation that motivated me to make turbulence the focal point of my current postdoctoral research in Madison.

  • What does the Da Vinci competition mean to you?

Being selected as a finalist for the prestigious Da Vinci Prize (and presenting my research in Rome) was already a significant achievement in itself. It got me by surprise to be chosen among a competitive pool of researchers. I can proudly say that I feel honored and privileged to have been chosen as the recipient of this esteemed recognition. Previous individuals whom I admire have also been either recipients or finalists for this award, and their achievements and contributions have set a high standard in the field of fluid dynamics. I acknowledge that this prize came from a big team effort from colleagues at Imperial and CNRS. I am indebted to the encouragement received from my Ph.D. advisor, Prof Omar Matar, who provided me with the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. in fluid mechanics and motivated me for many years.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I envision myself continuing to pursue my passion for fundamental research in fluid mechanics, particularly focusing on turbulence and multiphase flows. I aim to contribute to the development of more accurate models and predictive tools that can be applied to practical engineering challenges. By unraveling the underlying physics, identifying key parameters, and developing innovative numerical methods, I hope to make meaningful contributions to the field and pave the way for advancements in fluid mechanics.

  • What advice would you give to new Ph.D. students starting in fluid mechanics?

Be persistent and resilient. Research on fluid mechanics is very challenging and may involve setbacks. Be prepared to face obstacles, learn from failures, and persist in your pursuit of knowledge. Stay motivated, maintain a positive mindset, and remember that perseverance is key to achieving breakthroughs.


Date: ERCOFTAC Autumn Festival 2021, 7th - 8th October 2021
Hosted by PC Italy: Faculty of Civil and Industrial Engineering, Sapienza Universita di Roma, Italy