Doctoral Student, Rong Ma, Received 2020-21 Amelia Earhart Fellowship

Rong Ma, a doctoral student in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, has been awarded the 2020-2021 Amelia Earhart Fellowship by Zonta International. The fellowship is awarded to women who demonstrate a superior academic record conducting research applied to aerospace engineering or space sciences. Past fellows have gone on to become astronauts, aerospace engineers, astronomers, professors, geologists, business owners, heads of companies, even Secretary of the US Air Force.

Rong Ma works with faculty member, Professor Krishnan Mahesh, whose research is involved in the computation, analysis, and modeling of turbulent flows. Rong’s current research focuses on performing  directnumerical simulation (DNS) of turbulent channel flow over realistic rough surfaces and investigating turbulence and drag effects of the realistic roughness on turbulent flow.

Wall roughness has important effects on fluid engineering. Numerous examples are known in which the surface roughness plays an important role in the operation and performance of aeronautical engineering. For example, the use of coating on an aircraft aims to minimize the friction of the object relative to the fluid. The ice build-up and erosion on the wings of an aircraft contribute to a non-homogeneous roughness distribution, which in turn increase the fuel consumption and even cause serious damage. These underscore the importance of Rong’s project to understand roughness effects on flows.

Rong’s research goals, which have been achieved, included: (1) Demonstrate the predictive capability of DNS for turbulent flows over random rough surfaces; (2) Explore the roughness effects and Reynolds number dependence on turbulent statistics including mean velocity, Reynolds stresses, dispersive flux and momentum transfer; (3) Investigate the roughness effects on pressure fluctuations and wall-shear stress fluctuations.

Impressively, her results will serve as first data for both physical analysis and comparison on other realistic surfaces. Hence, designs can be improved and damages can be avoided. She is also currently developing the flow solver to do stability analysis on the rough-wall flows.

For the future, she has long-term ambitions to work in a research group in industry. “I am always enthusiastic to do the research in favor of solving realistic engineering problems,” She said.

The Department wishes Rong the best as she continues her research.