Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Graduate Student

Ryan McKeown
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Ryan McKeown is a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences where he researches experimental fluid dynamics. Ryan initially became interested in fluid dynamics during his undergraduate education at Brown University where he earned a B.Sc. in mechanical engineering in 2014. Since joining Harvard, Ryan has worked with his advisor, Shmuel Rubinstein, on a MRSEC IRG1 collaboration in which he visualizes the violent breakdown that results from the head-on collision of two vortex rings in water. With the support of the MRSEC to develop a high-speed, 3D laser-scanning microscope, Ryan has developed a method of directly observing how the initially coherent vortices rapidly break down with unparalleled spatiotemporal resolution. Coupled with this experimental work, Ryan and his other collaborators—Michael Brenner of the Harvard MRSEC, Rodolfo Ostilla Monico of the University of Houston, and Alain Pumir of ENS Lyon—have developed numerical simulations of the same collisions in order to identify the underlying mechanisms that drive this vortex breakdown. By understanding how these colliding vortices break down in an asymptotically inertial regime, Ryan and his collaborators hope to experimentally visualize and characterize the turbulent cascade in real time. In addition, Ryan given updates on his project at the quarterly New England Complex Fluids workshops, and shown his visually compelling work to a number of middle and high school groups (Above: Ryan demonstrating the vortex (smoke) ring collision work to students and interpretive teachers from the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) that have visited the Center.