Bo Zhu Receives NSF CAREER and CISE Awards

CS Assistant Professor Bo Zhu has received two major awards from the National Science Foundation in support of his research—the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award and a Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) grant. Both projects apply fluid simulation techniques to model and understand fluids and how they transform and flow in widely different settings. 

For the work outlined in his CAREER proposal, Zhu will train his tools on the timely and pressing study of disease transmission. Every pathogen must survive its transmission by suspending in a specific form of fluid. These fluid forms can be bulk liquids, thin sheets, filaments, bubbles, foams, droplets, and aerosols, all of which exhibit complex shapes and dynamics. 

His research will develop computational methods to simulate fluid phenomena that are related to human health and hygiene processes, such as sneezing mucus, splash plumes, and hand-washing foam, which have been out of reach for visual and scientific computing due to these complexities. Modeling these behaviors can help scientists develop a new understanding of many small-scale fluid phenomena—how a soap bubble bursts, how soap foams form in handwashing, and how droplets aerosols are generated in a sneeze. 

The second project focuses on digital manufacturing. The aim is to build computational simulation and optimization tools to design novel fluidic devices like jet engines, hydraulic pumps, or medical devices that human engineers have traditionally crafted relying on experience and established designed practices. These devices rely on a delicate functional interaction between a solid, often elastic, structure and a fluid medium. The research will fuel innovation in energy efficiency, boost the functionality of soft robotic platforms, and enable the creation of next-generation microfluidic mechanisms including highly effective prosthetics.