January 2011

From fluid dynamics and Plato to Boulder

When Kenneth Jansen started his undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, he planned to take his interest in devices and become a mechanical engineer.

But after he’d finished most of his course requirements, he took a couple of graduate-level electives in computational solid and fluid dynamics – courses that set him on his current research path.

At the same time, he also was taking his final humanities elective, and a discussion of Plato piqued his interest in teaching and extending the body of knowledge, leading him to Stanford University for graduate school.

There, he worked with Tom Hughes to build new computational methods that brought together computational solid and fluid dynamics. His first phase of thinking about applications such as aerodynamics came during his postdoc, a joint appointment at Stanford and at NASA Ames Research Center from 1993 to 1996. During that time he also started to see the limits of the computational methods – both the need to extend parallelism and the importance of adaptable methods.

In 1996, Jansen moved into a faculty position at RPI. In his years there he worked with colleagues such as Richard Lahey to think about the physics of multiphase flows and the adaptivity of methods. He continues to collaborate closely with Mark Shephard.

Jansen moved to the University of Colorado in Boulder in January 2010. From his current position, he’s looking forward to the opportunity to develop partnerships with researchers at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.