LIFD Early Career Researcher Spotlight: Calum Skene

Our monthly spotlight on the work and lives of the researchers from the Leeds Institute for Fluid Dynamics

This month: Calum Skene

School/ Faculty: School of Mathematics / Department of Applied Mathematics

Supervisors: Prof. Steve Tobias

Tell us a bit about yourself: 

I’m currently a research fellow at Leeds working in Prof. Steve Tobias’ group. Before Leeds I was a post doc at UCLA, and prior to that I completed my PhD in Applied Mathematics at Imperial College London. As most of my working day is spent at a computer I like to use my free time to go on walks with my wife and son, practise the guitar, or make things – from model planes to flat-pack furniture.

What is your research about?

During my time at Leeds I’ve been using various mathematical and numerical techniques to study fluid systems that arise in geophysical and astrophysical settings. This includes investigating how recent advances in machine learning and data-driven methods can help us to probe the statistics of turbulent flows, examining the Lagrangian statistics and dynamo properties of ABC flows, and conducting 3D spherical shell simulations to explore instabilities in astronomical bodies using the open-source PDE solver Dedalus. When I joined Leeds I had not studied magnetic fields before, and I’m really enjoying extending my previous fluid dynamics knowledge to this new area. Particularly as it enables me to study the fluid dynamics of planets and stars, which I have always been fascinated with. Before Leeds most of my research was concerned with hydrodynamic stability, non-modal stability, and adjoint-based analysis. I can usually find a way to incorporate adjoints in any research project, and sometimes they arise even when I don’t expect them!

What are your plans for the future?

In the future I’d like to continue to research topics that sit at the intersection of fluid dynamics, applied mathematics, and computational science, which are my primary research interests. I would be especially interested in developing or extending mathematical and numerical tools that can subsequently be used for studying fluid flows. As for the specific application, I hope to continue to study planets and stars, but am also open to returning to the other types of flows I used to study such as swirling jets, flow past aerofoils, and thermoacoustic systems.