Christina Vanderwel is an Associate Professor and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow in the Aerodynamics and Astronautics Department at the University of Southampton.
She specialises in experimental fluid mechanics, turbulence, and dispersion. In particular, her research involves conducting laboratory experiments using laser-based diagnostics to study the mechanisms of transport of turbulent flows. Applications include building aerodynamics, urban air pollution, ocean mixing, vehicle aerodynamics and industrial flows.
- Experimental Fluid Mechanics
- Turbulence Measurements and Modelling
- Building Aerodynamics and Urban Air Pollution
My research focusses on studying the mechanisms of mass and momentum transport in turbulent flows. My aim is to understand how coherent structures are fundamental building blocks of turbulence and how they contribute to the enhanced mixing and dispersion associated with turbulent flows.
Experimental Fluid Mechanics
The University of Southampton has a wide selection of experimental fluid mechanics facilities which includes several wind tunnels, water tunnels, and a large towing tank, located at Bolderwood campus. These facilities can generate a variety of flows, including flows over custom landscape models, turbulent boundary layers, shear flows and flows around different structures. Laser-based diagnostics such as particle image velocimetry (PIV) provide measurements of the flow velocity field. In addition, we are working on developing and improving the technique of planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF), which is a non-obtrusive method to measure the concentration of fluorescent dyes released in the flow. Using PLIF, we can measure the dispersion of a fluorescent dye acting as a proxy for pollution in a range of flows including channel flows, flows over complex terrain, industrial flows, and flows simulating indoor ventilation systems.
The structure of turbulent shear flows and boundary layers
Turbulent flows consist of a range of scales of vortices and eddies where the largest most-dominant repeating vortex patterns are known as coherent structures. Coherent structures act as mechanisms for turbulent transport and contain a substantial proportion of the turbulence energy. This research is interested in identifying the large-scale structures of different turbulent flows and how they vary due to the flow conditions. Flows of interest range from idealised turbulent shear flows to turbulent boundary layers developing over complex surfaces. Application of this research includes pollution transport modelling, drag prediction, and weather forecasting.
Building aerodynamics and urban air pollution
In a world with increased urbanisation and industrialisation, pollution is a global problem with a serious impact on health and climate that crosses political boundaries. However, in order to improve methods of tracing and predicting the movement of pollution in the atmosphere and waterways, we need to better understand the fundamental mechanisms of transport in turbulent flows. Current research combines computer simulations using Gaussian plume models and CFD as well as novel laboratory experiments to simulate wind patterns and air pollution in urban areas. Projects have included experimentally modelling vehicle exhausts, indoor air flow patterns, flow around buildings and city models, and simulations of air quality in Southampton. These projects all aim to improve our capability to model and predict urban air quality and make better decisions for sustainable cities.
- SESA6061 Turbulence
- SESA6070 Experimental Methods for Aerodynamics
- FEEG3011 Introduction to Turbulence and Mixing
- SESA2023 Propulsion
- FEEG1003 Thermofluids
2020: Associate Professor in Experimental Fluid Mechanics, University of Southampton
* 2020-2023: Winner of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, "Simulating Urban Air Pollution in the Lab"
2015: Lecturer in Experimental Fluid Mechanics, University of Southampton
* 2015-2017: Winner of a Marie Curie Research Fellowship, “Effects of multi-scale rough patches on hydrodynamics and scalar dispersion in turbulent boundary layers”
2014: PhD in Mechanical Engineering, “Turbulent Diffusion in Uniformly Sheared Flow”, University of Ottawa, Canada. *Winner of the Pierre Laberge Award for outstanding achievement in Science and Engineering.
2009: MASc in Mechanical Engineering, “Coherent Structures in Uniformly Sheared Turbulent Flow“, University of Ottawa, Canada.
2007: BSc (Hons.) in Mechanical Engineering, Queen’s University, Canada.