Major mechanics journal honors Prof. Rockwell

In 40 years at Lehigh, Donald Rockwell has earned international renown for illuminating the complex physics of fluid flows—from the breaking of ocean waves to the vortices generated by beating insect wings to the flow of blood past a catheter.

Rockwell, the Paul B. Reinhold Professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, has served 15 years as editor, including eight as editor in-chief, of Experiments in Fluids, the premiere journal in the field of experimental fluid mechanics.

He has advised 34 Ph.D. students, 17 of whom are now faculty members at universities in 10 different countries. His research has been funded for decades by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (ASOFR) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

In Lehigh’s Fluids Research Laboratory, Rockwell and his students and visiting scientists have attained the first quantitative insight into a range of complex vortex flows using laser-based imaging techniques and image processing. Their discoveries apply to a variety of phenomena, from pollution control in shallow water flows to micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs) to noise generation in propulsion systems.

A “diligent and scholarly tenure” as editor

This month, Experiments in Fluids is dedicating its entire issue—28 invited articles and more than 350 pages—to Rockwell for his contributions to the journal and to the field of fluid mechanics. These articles represent research groups in nine countries and include contributions written by Rockwell’s colleagues and former students.

In an editorial, the journal commended Rockwell “for his rapid, measured, fair, diligent and scholarly tenure…which ensured authors had trust in the way in which the journal would consider their manuscripts.”

After becoming the journal’s senior editor in 2002, the editorial noted, Rockwell oversaw many changes, including the establishment of a team of associate editors representing Asia, Europe and North America, the geographical expansion of the editorial advisory board, the movement to an Internet-based process for handling manuscripts, and a shift from print-based subscriptions to electronic consortia access.

“Don was instrumental in introducing and supervising all of these developments,” said the editorial, which was written by editors Noel Clemens, Wolfgang Merzkirch and Cameron Tropea. “Much of the current success of the journal can be directly attributed to his foresight and insight into the world of archival literature.”

Experiments in Fluids is published in Germany by Springer, an international publisher of science, technology and medical journals. The journal seeks to advance new experimental techniques and gain an understanding of the underlying physics of complex flows in the areas of turbulence, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, convective heat transfer, combustion, turbomachinery, multi-phase flows, and chemical, biological and geological flows.

During his career, Rockwell has collaborated with visiting faculty and scientists from a number of countries, including Japan, China, Australia, Germany and Turkey, who have performed research in Lehigh’s fluids mechanics labs. In addition to NSF, AFOSR and ONR, his research has been funded by NASA, the Volkswagen Foundation, Lockheed-Martin, Arrow International, and Combustion Research and Flow Technology.

Rockwell earned his Ph.D. from Lehigh in 1968.