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Faculty spotlight: Associate Professor Lian Duan

Lian Duan profile

Lian Duan, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering shares information about his research, advice for graduate students and what keeps him inspired in this installation of the Aerospace Research Center faculty spotlight series. Learn more by visiting his Computational Aerodynamics and Flow Physics Lab online.

Question: Why did you choose your field of research?

Answer: My research focuses on high-speed aerodynamics and automotive aerodynamics/aeroacoustics. Specifically, we perform high-fidelity computer simulations and benchmark experiments to make advances in the understanding, prediction and control of the aerodynamic phenomena encountered in flight and road vehicles.

Q: Describe one of your current projects.

A: One of my current projects, which is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), is to develop benchmark quality direct numerical simulation (DNS) database of high-speed, high-Reynolds-number turbulent boundary layers. The DNS database has been well recognized by the high-speed flow community and by Turbulence Model Benchmarking Working Group of AIAA [American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics] in particular. As the only database of its kind recognized by this important group, the research is enabling further studies of hypersonic wall bounded turbulence and also contributing to the refinement and validation of engineering turbulence models. Some of the datasets have been published in the well-known NASA Langley turbulence modeling portal. This project will be continuously funded by ONR until at least 2027.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: The most rewarding part of my job is to see the success of my students. Over the years I had the enormous fortune of working with extraordinary students. It is very rewarding to see my students to get competitive fellowships and eventually get hired by prestigious companies and research labs.

Q: What advice would you give to incoming graduate students?

A: It goes without saying that graduate study is hard work and dedication. However, the best students have a balance to their lives where they work hard but enjoy their time at university too. Ohio State, ARC in particular, is full of great people and is a great place to both study and have fun.

Q: What is special about the Aerospace Research Center?                         

A: ARC houses world-class wind-tunnel facilities that we are making use of for our research. I especially like ARC’s location. It is quiet, less crowded place that is much easier to get access to than the main campus. It is also closer to Honda’s Automotive Development Center and HALO wind tunnel that we work closely with.

Q: What keeps you inspired?

A: Both the flow around a high-speed flight and the flow over a road vehicle involve complex, highly unsteady turbulent flows. I’m always inspired by the detailed turbulent flow physics that a high-fidelity computer simulations like DNS can provide as well as inspired by the fact that our prediction and understanding of the flow physics can ultimately contribute to the development and efficient operation of flight and motor vehicles.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?

A: Honda recently unveiled a world-class facility – the Honda Automotive Laboratories of Ohio (HALO) wind tunnel – marking a new era in aerodynamics research opportunities for The Ohio State University. Through a strategic partnership agreement, an endowed chair position was created at Ohio State to engage research with Honda revolving around the HALO wind tunnel. I was very fortunate to join Ohio State as the endowed chair and had the opportunity to lead Ohio State’s aerodynamic research with Honda. ARC houses our brand new “Honda Aero/Acoustics Support Lab” that serves as student “storefront” / equipment prep area to support Honda/Ohio State Aero Research Collaboration. Hence, ARC is not only a center that advances state-of-the-art aerospace research at The Ohio State University, but also a place for cutting-edge automotive aerodynamics/aeroacoustics research.

For more faculty spotlights and to learn about the breadth of the center's research areas, click here to visit the research webpage.