Our lab provides rich, multi-varied scientific training. Students conduct laboratory and numerical experiments and develop theory about planetary processes. We seek students with a strong background in applied, engineering or mathematical physics as well as other creative, innovative thinkers. Graduates of the lab have published high-impact papers and gone on to work in the fields of planetary geophysics, applied mathematics, and governmental technology.

Jon Aurnou


  • Jewel Abbate
  • Jewel is developing and testing a laser imaging system to perform Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) on Rebecca DeShetler’s convecting Test Tank. The design will also be implemented on NoMag to quantify flow fields in a rapidly rotating, convecting environment.
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  • Ashna Aggarwal
  • For her Ph.D. work, Ashna is working on two equally beautiful and interesting projects. First, she is developing a novel numerical model to characterize the fundamental processes in which zonal jets, observed at the surface of Jupiter, are truncated as the outer molecular envelope transitions to a liquid metal. In addition, she is numerically and theoretically coupling to the new Coreaboloid experiment, a novel device that investigates core convection outside of the tangent cylinder. Here, the goal is to explore how large-scale structures are formed from quasi-geostrophic turbulence in the presence of radially directed convection and boundary curvature.
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  • AJ Chlarson
  • AJ is currently a 4th-year physics undergraduate working on understanding the dynamics of magnetically-driven Couette flow with liquid GaInSn in a cylinder and its kinematic reversibility at low Reynolds numbers.
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  • Emily Hawkins
  • For her Ph.D. work, Emily Hawkins is investigating rapidly rotating convective turbulence in water using the large-scale NoMag device. She is collecting the first experimental dataset to simultaneously characterize fluid heat and momentum transfer across a broad range of parameters in a systematic study. In addition, Emily is exploring the conditions at which Coriolis-centrifugal convection becomes important in the confined geometries of the laboratory devices NoMag and RoMag for both water and liquid metal. Ultimately, her work will begin to constrain under what conditions large-scale flows develop from small-scale turbulence in planetary core dynamo systems.
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Susanne Horn
  • Susanne Horn
  • Susanne joined the lab as a DFG postdoctoral fellow. Using direct numerical simulations, she studies the influence of rotation and magnetic fields on liquid metal convection to foster the understanding of planetary core convection in general and to couple to the RoMag laboratory experiments specifically. Furthermore, she investigates Coriolis-centrifugal convection and its relevance for tornado-like vortices.
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  • Norris Khoo
  • Norris is developing a laboratory model of planetary core convection with the support of the Straus Family Fund for Undergraduate Opportunity over the spring and summer of 2018. He has also worked on the DIYnamics outreach project, generating the design of that project’s LEGO-based rotating table.
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  • Taylor Lonner
  • Taylor is developing a novel laboratory model called the Coreaboloid to simulate low latitude convective motions in Earth’s outer core. Using an XBee-Arduino for wireless data acquisition system, she tracks the lateral and vertical temperature gradients to determine the properties of the convection. Using a larger tank, she eventually plans to simulate Jovian-style jet dynamics.
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  • Yufan Xu
  • For his Ph.D. work, Yufan is doing an experimental study of magnetoconvection on RoMag with liquid gallium. Using laboratory models, he will investigate planetary interiors under the presence of magnetic fields.
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