Skip to content

Research Experience

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow
National Institute of Standards and Technology

In the summer of 2012 I was honored to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (SURF) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. I spent 11 weeks developing verification studies for the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS). I worked directly with Kevin McGrattan, the principal investigator for the “Fire Modeling for Performance-Based Design” Project, and consulted frequently with the other members of the team. My verification studies were designed to test the computational fluid dynamics used in the program to predict heat transfer rates and smoke behavior.

I worked on a two-dimensional vortex simulation to test the transport algorithm for second-order accuracy, a study that was added to the FDS Verification Guide for FDS 6. The Cartesian grid system employed by FDS requires special techniques to handle the rough boundaries of curved and angled surfaces. Earlier versions of FDS would eliminate vorticity at these surfaces, however, I was able to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of these techniques and FDS 7 will be switching to an immersed boundary method. I also investigated the accuracy of the turbulence modeling in FDS through a model of stratified mixing layers.

As part of developing the FDS software, my contributions and the contributions of the rest of the Engineered Fire Safety Group had to be integrated together. I worked closely with the rest of the team to prevent conflicts, using version control via the command line and the SmartSVN Subversion Client to keep track of everyone’s contributions.

FDS Verification Guide Supplement


Undergraduate Thesis Project
Reed College

During my final year at Reed I conducted an analysis of the effects of shear forces in a thin fluid layer. Basic Kolmogorov shear flow was used to develop stable laminar and turbulent flow patterns as well as unstable flow patterns at high Reynolds numbers. An early instability leading to a stable lattice of vortices was observed to occur at V=9.5 volts. The effects of prisms present in the fluid layer in the shape of arc intersections were also analyzed. The same instability that was observed in the regular setup was observed to broaden in the presence of a prism, the inflection point of which was observed to occur between V=12 and V=14 volts, the inflection occurring at higher voltages for prisms with lower arc radii.

Thesis Excerpt