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LIFD celebrates five years of success and the incredible potential of fluid dynamics


The Leeds Institute for Fluid Dynamics (LIFD) celebrated its fifth anniversary with high-profile guests, highlighting the importance of fluid dynamics to the economy and society as a whole.

The LIFD 5th Birthday Celebration welcomed over 150 attendees for the two-day event (25-26 January), which featured high-profile keynote speakers including theoretical physicist Sir Steven Cowley, pioneering mechanical engineer Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Met Office chief scientist Professor Stephen Belcher, and a host of LIFD’s leading academics.

Fluid dynamics contribute significantly to British and international industry and offers fundamental solutions to global societal challenges. It is also an area that will see major scientific advances in the next decade – one that LIFD hopes to lead on a national level.

By 2021, fluid dynamics were estimated to generate £13.9 billion through over 2,200 firms and was responsible for employing 45,000 people. UK firms engaged in fluid dynamics had a turnover of £200 billion, while the gross value that fluid dynamics added to the economy was estimated to be £3.4 billion. These figures continue to grow each year, in part thanks to advocacy by organisations such as LIFD.

Sir steven cowley at lifd 2024Sir Steven Cowley at LIFD's fifth birthday.

Since its initial formation in 2018, LIFD has won a strong international reputation for its research, training, and advocacy for fluids. In its short history, it has been awarded two Centres for Doctoral Training; contributed vital COVID-19 research and assisted SAGE during the pandemic; hosted government ministers; championed the role of women in fluids; presented findings and developments at international conferences; and held numerous national events.

Across the latest two-day event, attendees heard about how fluid dynamics can help solve the great societal problems of our time, including climate change, Net Zero ambitions, clean air, and public health.

During the opening day, Professor Belcher spoke about the crucial role that fluids play in weather and climate predictions, and how an upcoming revolution in coupling machine-learning and fluid dynamics will lead to better predictions. Sir Steven Cowley FRS focused on the importance of fluid dynamics for clean energy via fusion, as fluid dynamics are vital in keeping plasma stable.

Dame Ann Dowling opened the second day by discussing the role of fluids in our transition to Net Zero, through the improvement in transport and use of clean hydrogen. Finally, the LIFD’s own Professor Cath Noakes capped off the gathering by focusing on clean air and virus transmission, and how scientists can and should interact with policymakers.

Dame Ann Dowling presenting at LIFD's fifth anniversary event.Dame Ann Dowling presenting at LIFD's fifth anniversary event.

Professor Steven Tobias, Director of the Leeds Institute for Fluid Dynamics, said: “It was a great pleasure to welcome so many colleagues from Leeds, the UK and abroad to celebrate LIFD’s fifth birthday. Looking back, it’s amazing how far we’ve come in putting fluid dynamics on the map and emphasising its importance for the economy and society.

“Leeds and the UK has a massive strength in fluids research, teaching, and outreach, which is sometimes taken for granted – so it was a real pleasure to showcase and celebrate it with colleagues, funders, policymakers, and end users.

“The talks and demonstrations were of such a high quality, both from the world-leading scientists who gave our invited talks and those early career researchers at the cutting edge. With the right support, the future of fluids is in great hands. I’m looking forward to the next five years!”

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