Duncan Receives Wilson H. Elkins Professorship
Department of Mechanical Engineering Professor James Duncan was awarded the Wilson H. Elkins Professorship for 2014. The professorship was awarded to support and expand Duncan’s work in the Hydrodynamics Laboratory, and for engaging graduate, undergraduate, and high school students on cutting-edge research.
Duncan will receive a total of $80,000 over two years that will help efforts to expand research on free surface flows in the Hydrodynamics Laboratory that he leads with Professor Kenneth Kiger. The lab contains three main experimental facilities: a large wind and wave tank, a high-pressure water tank and a new high speed towing tank. This new tank includes a two-axis high-speed carriage for studying the impact of ship models with water surface and a large high-speed belt device for simulating the turbulent boundary layer of a ship. With the Professorship, and these new devices, Duncan will be able to begin experiments on ship model impact and ship boundary layers.
The Elkins Professorship will also enable Duncan to investigate “anti-bubbles,” a term for air-film bubbles. Unlike soap-film bubbles that are filled with air, “anti-bubbles” are filled with water encased in a combination of an air-film shell and water. Duncan and his research team have begun exploratory experiments on “anti-bubbles” to understand the dynamics of their formation and behavior.
Duncan received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics from Johns Hopkins University. His research interests include experimental investigations of free surface flows, breaking wave waves, and fluid-structure interactions using quantitative flow visualization techniques.
Duncan has received multiple honors and awards including the Poole and Kent Teaching Award for Senior Faculty at the Clark School of Engineering in 2003 and the Distinguished Scholar–Teacher in 2004. Duncan is also a member of Keystone: The Clark School Academy of Distinguished Professors, a program that encourages the school’s best faculty to teach the school’s most fundamental courses. In addition, Duncan is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, and serves as the Vice Chair of the Division of Fluid Dynamics of the American Physical Society, where he will also serve as chairman in 2015-16.
This fall, he will teach ENME 642 Hydrodynamics, the first graduate-level course he has taught in several years. Duncan will continue being a part of the Keystone Program, and he will teach either Keystone course ENES 221 Dynamics or ENME 331 Introduction to Fluid Dynamics in spring 2014.
The Elkins Professorship was established in 1978 as the University of Maryland’s first permanently endowed, university-wide professorship in honor of its outgoing president Wilson H. Elkins, who raised Maryland’s prestige and grew it in “size, scope and standing.” Candidates must possess a solid record of achievement, desire and ability to lead, significant achievement beyond their discipline.
Published September 4, 2013