Spotlight on the women in ERCOFTAC - Prof. Maria Vittoria Salvetti:

“CFD is not for women (or men) who like an easy life”

Today we are highlighting the work of Maria Vittoria Salvetti, a leading figure in CFD, a full professor of Fluid Dynamics at the University of Pisa
and Director of the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering of the University of Pisa.

Prof. Maria Vittoria Salvetti

Maria Vittoria Salvetti is editor of Computers and Fluids and Flow, Turbulence and Combustion, member of the advisory board of Acta Mechanica, and editor of the ERCOFTAC Book Series. She is also the coordinator of ERCOFTAC’s Special Interest Group on "Large-Eddy Simulation". The Italian Space Agency, Council of the European Mechanics Society, and the IUTAM (International Unit of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics) Congress Committee are just a few of the high profile organisations where her expertise is drawn upon.

Read our interview with Maria Vittoria to find out more about her impressive career to date.

What is your academic background?

I graduated in Aerospace Engineering in 1989 and then went on to complete a Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences at the University of Nice, carrying out numerical simulation and modeling of hypersonic re-entry flows at the Institut Nationale de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique (INRIA). In 1993, I returned to the University of Pisa as an assistant professor. I was vice president of the Engineering School (2017-2020) and, since 2020, I have been the director of the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering of the University of Pisa, and I am a full professor of Fluid Dynamics at the University of Pisa.

What is your research specialism?

My research is concerned mainly with numerical simulation and modeling of complex flows, e.g.,

turbulent, massively separated, multiphase flows, micro-fluidics, and mixing. The main goals are to contribute to numerical techniques, physical modeling, and understanding of such flows. Experimental analysis, used synergically with numerical simulation, is also part of my research activities. Finally, I am interested in uncertainty quantification in numerical simulations and experiments

What motivates you to work on fluid mechanics, or what do you find fascinating about it?

Fluid dynamics is present almost everywhere: industrial applications, technological devices, transportation, environmental problems, health and medicine, sports… Its complexity is fascinating and provides a variety of challenges for researchers and engineers. Computational fluid dynamics combines physical modeling, applied mathematics, and engineering skills.

It is a tool becoming more and more powerful and reliable to improve our understanding of the complex physics involved in fluid dynamics and, at the same time, to provide solutions to technological, industrial, and environmental challenges. Well, CFD is not for women (or men) who like an easy life.

What advice would you give to young women wanting to get into STEM?

I would advise women to follow their dreams and passions in all aspects of their life. This will give them the motivation and energy to work hard in any field, including STEM. I also encourage them to find their own way in their career, research and teaching without being stuck in any stereotypes established by men.

What are the benefits of being a member of ERCOFTAC?

ERCOFTAC offers the opportunity to exchange with senior and junior researchers in all fields of Fluid Dynamics at an outstanding scientific level and also in a friendly atmosphere - at conferences, workshops and courses. ERCOFTAC publications help in disseminating and giving visibility to research achievements and results.

We would like contributions from women at all stages of their careers in both academia and industry, from students to high-level academics. If you would like to take part in this series or would like to nominate one of your colleagues or students, please email: