Current Team

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
  • Jonathan Aurnou
  • Jonathan Aurnou is a professor of geophysics and planetary physics in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. His main research interests are in planetary magnetic field generation, planetary jet and vortex dynamics, rotating turbulence and magnetoturbulence, and convective transport phenomena. Aurnou’s group combines laboratory, numerical and theoretical methods to generate advanced models of flow processes occurring with planetary cores and atmospheres. In addition to scientific research, Aurnou’s group has built up a unique library of scientific outreach videos ( and has launched the DIYnamics Project ( to foster do-it-yourself experimental demonstrations of geophysical flows.
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  • Jewel Abbate
  • For her Ph.D. work, Jewel is investigating how rapidly rotating, planetary core convection differs when driven by compositional forcing (using high Prandtl number fluids) versus thermal forcing (using low Prandtl number liquid gallium). To characterize her experimental convective flows, she will use of an array of diagnostic methods including thermometry, laser and acoustic Doppler velocimetry, and particle image velocimetry.
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  • Ashna Aggarwal
  • Ashna Aggarwal is a PhD student at UCLA, joining SpinLab in 2016. Her thesis work includes understanding the fundamental fluid dynamics behind magnetohydrodynamic phenomena, such as magnetic truncation of planetary jet flows observed at the surface of the gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn ( For this project, she developed a novel numerical code, Dynamics of Gas Giants (DoGG). More broadly, she is interested in the underlying mechanisms behind planetary scale fluid processes such as rotating convection and turbulence.
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  • Jake Ehret
  • Jake Ehret is currently pursuing a B.S. in UCLA’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. He has been a member of the SpinLab team since the fall of 2019, when he oversaw the placement and installation of a new 10 kW chiller for the NoMag device. His next project will next focus on running the Coreaboloid device in collaboration with Taylor Lonner. Once the Coreaboloid is fully operational, Jake will use this device to simulate planetary atmospheric dynamics. Outside of physics, Jake is minoring in French and has been elected Vice President of UCLA Men’s Club Soccer for the 2020-21 school year.
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  • Henry Gonzalez
  • Henry Gonzalez is currently a Project Manager in both the SpinLab and the Space Magnetism Lab.  In the SpinLab, he is primarily coordinating and developing novel laboratory devices. Henry’s broad knowledge in prototyping has paved the way to new modeling systems for understanding the interiors and atmospheres of planets. He is also working on the DIYnamics project,  developing a hierarchy of portable DIY systems to be used for demonstrating the basic concepts of geophysical fluid dynamics to any and all comers.
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  • Taylor Lonner
  • Taylor Lonner is an undergraduate researcher developing a novel laboratory model called the Coreaboloid to simulate low latitude rapidly rotating convective flows in Earth’s outer core.  Employing the Xbee-Arduino wireless thermal data acquisition system she developed, Taylor tracks internal temperature variations in the working fluid. She is also implementing a high resolution thermographic camera into the system to make high spatiotemporal resolution temperature field measurements on the upper free surface of the convecting fluid layer.  Her goals are to model the effects of the Coriolis force in this rapidly rotating turbulent system and, in doing so, to infer what sort of low latitude flow structures are present in Earth’s molten outer core.
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  • Yufan Xu
  • For his Ph.D. work, Yufan is conducting experimental studies of magnetoconvection (MC) in liquid gallium using the RoMag device. He is currently investigating a novel magneto-precessional mode and the heat transfer properties in the MC system. Yufan will continue his studies on MC with the added effects of rotation, which is essential to our understanding of  dynamo generation in planets and stars.
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