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On Campus

April 26, 2001 - VOL. 28, NO. 03


greek columnspacerArete: Charles N. Baroud

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Rick Cherwitz and Courtney Dillard

 

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Editor's note: Arete is an ancient Greek word for virtue, describing the quest for individual excellence. In this regular feature of On Campus, the University salutes its graduate students — whose considerable contributions to the academy and larger community are truly virtuious. These features will be framed and posted in the lobby of the Office of Graduate Studies, Main 101.

spacerName: Charles N. Baroud
spacerHometown: Beirut, Lebanon
spacerProgram of Study: Mechanical Engineering
spacerPh.D. Advisers: Dr. Raul Longoria (mechanical engineering) and Dr. Harry Swinney (physics)

Charles Baroud is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering. He spends most of his time, however, at the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics in the physics department. He holds an undergraduate degree from MIT and an M.S. in mechanical engineering from UT.

Baroud currently is engaged in testing theoretical models describing the effect of rotation on the motion of fluids. Planetary rotation affects the motion of the oceans and atmosphere in significant and counter-intuitive ways.

For instance, Jupiter's Great Red Spot is actually a storm that has been present for at least 300 years, and is not showing any signs of decay. Some researchers believe this is due may be to the two-dimensionalization of fluid motion by rotation. Baroud's work addresses the question of two-dimensional turbulence, which in the past has proven difficult to pursue experimentally.

Since 1987, UT Austin has been home to one of the few labs in the world engaging in this research. As an engineering student working in a physics lab, Baroud has been able to use his engineering design skills to upgrade much of the instrumentation and push the experiment he has inherited in new directions, allowing it to access new physical questions.

While engineers and physicists often are interested in similar problems, the questions they attempt to answer can be very different. This has allowed Baroud to broaden his perspective by interacting with researchers from both disciplines.

His work may have widespread implications. For example, patterns in atmospheric or oceanic flows will affect pollutant transport. Such research can help determine the rate at which pollutants spread from their source. Furthermore, Baroud’s experiments reveal a faster growth rate of disturbances that might affect our understanding of the rate at which storms grow and dissipate, allowing meteorologists to make more accurate weather predictions.

Baroud shares his culture with the UT community. For instance, he screeens films from his native Lebanon on campus. The most recent series, featuring 20 short films by young Lebanese filmmakers, took place in the spring 2000 and attracted a broad audience. He also authored Web pages dealing with Arabic music, Lebanese poetry and art.

Among his academic accomplishments, Baroud was invited to lecture at the American University of Beirut, at the University of California at Berkeley, and at the Coriolis lab in Grenoble, France. He also chaired the "geophysical flows" session at the American Physical Society's 2000 fluid dynamics meeting in Washington DC. His most recent work can be found in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics (2001).

NOTE: Nominations (including self-nominations) for ARETE should be sent to Associate Dean Richard Cherwitz at spaj737@uts.cc.utexas.edu


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April 26, 2001
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