Stephen Garrett

  • Tuesday 20 June 2017
  • 5.30pm-6.30pm
  • Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 1
  • Professor Garrett and Professor John Bridges will each present a half-hour lecture.

Fluids mechanics: complexity at all scales

Classical fluid mechanics might be dismissed as a simple application of Newton’s laws. The equations that govern the air flow over an A380’s wings can be written down easily, so isn’t fluids done and dusted as a research topic? What more can we possibly hope it will give us? Why does it continue to attract and entertain some of the brightest minds? Why is it still funded?

Fluids is taught in all engineering, physics and mathematics programmes around the world. But where should it really sit within the often fiercely protected bounds between the traditional disciplines? Does it really matter anyway?

In this lecture, Professor Garrett uses his own research path as a way of exploring the vastness of the subject and perhaps hint at some answers to these questions.

Professor Stephen Garrett, Chair in Fluid Mechanics

S Garrett 200x266.jpgStephen grew up in a small village close to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon. Local legend has it that his village inspired both the Archers and Tolkien’s Hobbit Shire. Despite the proximity to Britain’s literary history, he actively ignored this and focussed on the cold facts of maths and physics.

In 1995 he joined the University of Birmingham to read Theoretical Physics & Applied Mathematics and discovered the joys of academic competition. Thanks to some very able opponents, he won the Faculty of Science award four years in a row and was accepted to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge to read for a PhD in fluid mechanics. Although officially working in Cambridge’s Engineering Department, he was supervised by the applied mathematician Prof Nigel Peake (now head of Cambridge’s famous DAMTP), prompting Stephen to view engineering and applied mathematics as fundamentally connected.

He finished his PhD in 2 1/2 years and, in 2002, sold his soul to the financial sector. This enabled a move to Birmingham (Tolkien’s inspiration for Mordor), primarily to be close to Yvette his then girlfriend and resident of Brum.

After becoming truly miserable working in the real world, he moved to Leicester’s Department of Mathematics in 2006 and led the introduction of actuarial science while rebuilding his research career in fluid mechanics. He’s been considerably less miserable ever since. Stephen married Yvette in 2006 and they had Adam in 2007 and Matthew in 2009.

By 2015 Stephen felt he’d done all he could for actuarial science and took the opportunity to move to Engineering. Here he currently leads the Computational Engineering & Control Group and is the Departmental Director of Research.

While a Professor of Engineering here, he is also a Visiting Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Sydney, Australia. Importantly he’s given up trying to define himself as either an engineer or an applied mathematician (or indeed an applied physicist) and spends a lot of his time trying to convince students that they should do the same.

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