Lighthill Lecture 2022

This annual high-profile lecture given by distinguished individuals in the area of Fluid Mechanics was launched in 2014 to celebrate the opening of our new CDT in Fluid Dynamics across Scales and the pioneering work in this area of Professor Sir James Lighthill FRS whilst at Imperial College.

The CDT welcomes Professor Beverley McKeon to deliver the 2022 Lecture.

What makes turbulence tick?

In this lecture, I will utilize the tools that Lighthill honed and tools of the modern day – theoretical analysis and data-driven methods, respectively – together with novel laboratory experiments to illuminate key features of nonlinear interactions in the Navier-Stokes equations. Focusing on a spatio-temporal representation of turbulence near walls – an omnipresent phenomenon in large-scale transport and transportation - interscale interactions are identified and quantified, then reduced to key elements responsible for sustaining turbulence. Methods to obtain data-driven representations of both linear and nonlinear dynamics will be discussed, along with some implications for the modeling of wall turbulence. The work has benefited from funding by the US ONR and AFOSR over a period of years, which is gratefully acknowledged.

Speaker Biography


Beverley J. McKeon is the Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics at the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at Caltech (GALCIT) and former Deputy Chair of the Division of Engineering & Applied Science. Effective January 2023, she will be a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She received her B.A., M.A. and M.Eng. from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University under the supervision of Lex Smits. She completed postdoctoral research and a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship at Imperial College London before arriving at Caltech in 2006. Her research interests include interdisciplinary approaches to manipulation of boundary layer flows using morphing surfaces, fundamental investigations of wall turbulence and the influence of the wall at high Reynolds number, the development of resolvent analysis for modeling turbulent flows, and assimilation of experimental data for efficient low-order flow modeling. Prof. McKeon is a Fellow of the APS and the AIAA and the recipient of a Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship from the DoD in 2017, the Presidential Early Career Award (PECASE) in 2009 and an NSF CAREER Award in 2008 as well as Caltech’s Shair Program Diversity Award, Graduate Student Council Excellence in Mentoring Award and Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. She currently serves as co-Lead Editor of Physical Review Fluids, as Physical Sciences co-captain on the Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences Research in Space 2023-32, and on the editorial board of the Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, and is a past editor-in-chief of Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science. She is the current Chair, and APS representative, of the US National Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.