Principal Investigator
Professor Tadd T. Truscott
Curriculum Vitae

My primary area of expertise lies in the dynamics (or physics) associated with both fluid-fluid and solid-fluid interaction. My personal research ranges greatly from large-scale, supercavitating projectiles to extremely small-scale water transport and external flows through micro-channels in plants. I combine experimental investigation and measurement with theoretical analysis to explain the natural world. My approach typically yields both a visual and physical understanding, providing useful information needed for engineering design. I am currently leading a study regarding the impact dynamics of successive droplet impacts onto both rigid surfaces and into fluids. This area of research has far reaching applications from splash back of hazardous chemicals and biohazards in the laboratory to the splash back of urine in urinals and toilets. Understanding the physics behind these types of splash back phenomena is important for consideration of improved health codes, experimental protocols and the design of micturition equipment, especially in and around health care facilities. I have nearly 13 years experience in studying splash dynamics and I have attached a copy of my curriculum vitae to show the breadth and depth of my understanding in this area. In summary, my laboratory has published 42 peer reviewed journal articles, 67 conferences, 38 posters, 19 awards, gathered over $2M in funding, graduated 2 PhDs, 12 MS, and mentored 20 undergraduates, most of their work is published and has been popularized through popular media outlets.

I received my BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah in 2003. As an undergraduate researcher, I helped develop and implement an inertial measurement unit (advisor Prof. Mark Minor) and was employed by the CSAFE laboratory (advisor Prof. Patrick McMurtry) to run rocket nozzle flow visualizations. I then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (advisor Prof. Alexandra H. Techet) and received my Ph.D. in Mechanical and Ocean Engineering in June 2009. I was selected as a University Laboratory Initiative candidate and received research funding from the Office of Naval Research to study free surface flows. My PhD thesis is entitled “Cavity dynamics of water entry for spheres and ballistic projectiles”.After completing my graduate studies I worked at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island as a Research Engineer for one year. While there I helped develop a novel, three-dimensional fluid imaging system. For example, we utilized the technology to measure the size distribution and formation of bubbles in a fluid flow formed by jets and droplets. The technique allowed us to visualize the motion of the bubbles in 3D and in time. I also studied multiple types of cavitation events and helped model the inception of cavitation at the interface between fluids and solids.

I was an assistant professor at Brigham Young University from July 2010 to December 2014. I am now an associate professor at Utah State University since January 2015. As an assistant professor I started the Splash Lab, where several students and I (typically around ten) study the interaction of fluids with solid objects. Our studies have focused on the water entry and exit of solids objects, microscopic flow visualization, water droplet impact and the formation and rupture of soap films. Further, our studies typically incorporate solid bodies that can flex and alter their shape elastically, making our studies more complex and more relevant to many of the more modern materials that are used in current-day industry and commercial products.

I have taught 14 courses as a Professor. I have taught a capstone course, three courses in fluid dynamics and a course in instrumentation. My courses offer the typical lectures, homework and testing and include an individual or team project that has a significant writing component. I use this writing component to help students synthesize the concepts they have learned throughout the semester. Success is measured by both the quality of the research they perform as well as the overwhelmingly good experiences they have as evidenced by their comments. One student wrote, “I have learned more in this course than in most of my courses here at BYU. Professor Truscott inspired us to do our own semester long projects. This gave us all a chance to dedicate a lot of time to something we were interested in learning about. I gained so much hands-on experience from this class that will help me in research with professors in the future.”

In my laboratory, I mentor students in a similar self-motivated direction but the methods aren’t at the board or in the classroom, instead they are at the work bench discussing research side by side. I expect my graduate students to present at a conference and publish in a peer- reviewed journal; encouraging undergraduates to do the same. So far each of my graduate students has presented at a conference and has either submitted to a journal or is in the process of doing so.

I am currently a member of the American Physical Society and am an active member of the Division of Fluid Dynamics division of that society. My activity within this community has resulted in 49 presentations and 39 posters within an 13-year period. The annual poster contest is known as the Gallery of Fluid Motion Awards and I have won 10 times, 5 of which are Milton Van Dyke awards (the highest honor of the conference). Most of the posters/videos that we have won have some sort of splash dynamics and generally lead to journal publications.

My research is primarily funded by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation. I have been awarded multiple grants over the past eleven years totaling over $1.7 million. These grants support two main areas of research: the water entry and exit of solid and elastic objects, and the development of a 3D imaging method for fluid dynamics. In addition to these awards I have been a summer research fellow for the Navy for 3 years in a row (2011-2013).

As a graduate student I studied the effect of wetting angle from surface treatments and dynamic effects on the water entry of spheres. I also studied the stabilization criterion for the water entry of bullets designed to travel underwater. During my graduate studies I helped pioneer a quantitative 3D imaging technique now known as Synthetic Aperture Particle Image Velocimetry (SAPIV). I continue to develop imaging methods that utilize the technological basis of this technique. I have expanded the technique to include multiphase flows and microscopic imaging.

My current research focuses on the cavity dynamics and forces acting on elastic bodies falling through the air-water interface. I also study splash dynamics of droplets and objects that interact with the water surface in both shallow and deep fluid pools. My work tends to lead to better flow visualization techniques stemming from my ongoing research in these complicated free surface flows. My work has been formally published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Physics of Fluids, Experiments in Fluids, Physics Today, Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, etc. and many conferences. My award winning photographs have been highlighted in National Geographic and Popular Mechanics and he has appeared as a guest on Discovery Channel’s ‘Time Warp’ a television program that focuses on high-speed photography. My research has also received significant media attention and been published by the BBC, Wired Magazine, Time and La Monde.

Affiliated Researchers

Randy Hurd
Hurd1-150x150Dr. Randy Hurd received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from BYU and his PhD from Utah State University in December 2017.  His research focused on investigating the impact dynamics of highly deformable spheres with the water free surface. With ideal impact parameters, highly deformable spheres are capable of rebounding off of the water surface in a manner similar to skipping stones, but with greater efficiency. Randy’s research seeks to better understand this phenomenon with the intent of optimization. Randy is also involved in promoting interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among adolescents and teenagers through a local educational outreach program featuring underwater robotics. Randy enjoys dark chocolate, carbon bikes and long walks on the beach. He now works as a Research Engineer at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Keyport, WA. He continues to help guide the direction of the Splash Lab and regularly publish with us.

Zhao Pan
ZhaoDr. Zhao Pan performed his doctoral research in the Splash Lab and received his Ph.D. from Brigham Young University in May 2016. His dissertation addresses error propagation dynamics of the PIV-based pressure calculation. He has broad research interests including topics such as: PIV, CFD, bubbles, droplets, and fluid instabilities, as well as biofluids, especially flow and transport in plants. Prior to joining the Splash lab, he worked in dynamics and controls during his undergraduate and master years. He also tested material and heat transfer for a short time; however, after taking Prof. Christo I. Christov’s PDE class, Zhao dramatically changed his interest to fluid dynamics. He looks forward to connecting his various backgrounds with his future research in fluid dynamics and starting his own interdisciplinary and collaborative lab: Pan-Lab. He enjoys art, food, and especially basketball, but now he is too fat to play well.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Mujtaba Mansoor
mujtabaDr. Mujtaba Mansoor earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Nottingham in 2011 where his final year project investigated fluid flow and heat transfer in micro-channel heat sinks using CFD simulations. He then joined King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) as a Master’s student to obtain his M.S. degree in 2012 and stayed on to pursue his Ph.D. (2013-2016) under the supervision of Prof. Sigurdur Thoroddsen. His research at KAUST focused on free-surface flows, cavitation, laser ablation, droplet splashing, granular flows, squeeze flows, and coating flows. Of particular interest to him has been the classical water-entry problem which is relevant to several naval and military applications such as in air-to-sea ballistic missiles, slamming of ships, and seaplane landings. Mujtaba now works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Splash Lab where he is studying the swarming of living organisms to help program robots which can mimic the flocking behavior observed in nature used ubiquitously to perform collective tasks such as avoiding becoming a prey, gathering food, and hunting. On a different note, he is an avid petrol head and follows Formula 1 racing quite closely.

Graduate Students

Nathan Speirs
Nathan Speirs received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from BYU in 2015 where he joined the Splash Lab. He is a currently a PhD student in the Splash Lab at Utah State University. His research focuses on methods of mitigating severe slamming loads associated with water impact, with the hope of preventing injury to operators of small combat watercraft and eliminate damage to airdropped torpedoes and sonobuoys.

Syed Rafid Rahman
rafidSyed Rafid Rahman completed his BS in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 2015. He is a currently a PhD student of Mechanical Engineering in the Splash Lab at Utah State University. His PhD focuses on methods of finding the mechanics of swarming behavior and its application in the field of Mechanical Engineering. He loves reading books, watching soccer, playing cricket and visiting new places.

Saberul Islam Sharker
Saberul Islam Sharker completed his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and is currently a graduate student in Utah State University. A Splashlab member since August 2015, he started his research on the water entry of diving birds. This bio-inspired research focuses primarily on the impact velocity and force that affect cavity formation. He loves hiking and visiting new places and likes football (the real football, not the American one!) and when at home, he likes to watch movies and read novels.

Benjamin Lovett
Benjamin Lovett received his Mechanical Engineering form Utah State University and is currently pursuing a master’s in Mechanical Engineering from USU. Ben joined the Splash lab in March 2015 where he is involved with experiments on the water entry of axisymmetric bodies and pretty much whatever else comes his way. His favorite things to do involve basically anything outside, playing sports (except basketball), playing music, building with Legos, or playing Axis and Allies.

Rafsan Rabbi
Rafsan Rabbi received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and is currently a graduate student at Utah State University. He joined the Splash Lab in October 2016 and has been working with the Swarming Team. His research focuses on the application of natural swarming phenomena in the field of robotics. As autonomous vehicles are the way forward, creating self-sustaining swarms for autonomous systems may have a profound impact on everything from combat to day-to-day life. Rafsan is a Potterhead. He is sorted into Gryffindor and has an Acacia wand (as Pottermore declared!). He loves to play Cricket and follow international politics in his leisure time.

Undergraduate Students

Andrew Merritt
Andrew Merritt is a Junior at Utah State University. He started working as a research assistant at the Splash Lab in May 2015 and has helped implement various projects involving droplet impingement and the free surface impact of slender bodies. His favorite hobbies include listening to music, reading, and camping.

Lydia Williams
LydiaLydia Williams is studying business administration and human resources at Utah State University, and will graduate in the Spring of 2017. She started working as the operations manager for the Splash Lab in October 2015. Lydia makes sure everything runs smoothly, so the researchers can focus on their projects. She enjoys camping, reading, traveling, and running. Her LinkedIn profile can be found here.

Wesley Robinson
WesleyWesley Robinson is a senior at Utah State University studying physics and he joined the Splash Lab in October 2015. His interests include snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing, and pretending how to code. He is currently involved with bubble film experiments, as well as swarming behaviors in various animals.

Hunter Klein
HunterHunter Klein is a sophomore at Utah State University studying mechanical engineering. He joined the Splash Lab in Fall of 2015 as a research assistant, and since has been involved in experiments on paint droplet impact and droplets rolling on a small pool. His hobbies include playing and listening to Jazz, watching movies, hiking, and fishing.

Splash Lab Years

Splashlab 2016-2017: Year Seven

Top row from the left: Mujtaba Mansoor, Hunter Klein, Randy Hurd, Wes Robinson, Ben Lovett, Andrew Merritt, Saberul Islam Sharker. Bottom row: Lydia Williams, Ethan Eliason, Syed Rafid Rahman, Rafsan Rabbi, Nathan Speirs, Tadd Truscott. Not pictured: Zhao Pan

Splashlab 2015-2016: Year Six

This year the lab got settled into life at USU and published many papers. Top row from the left: Saberul Islam Sharker, Lydia Williams, Ryan Hermansen, Benjamin Lovett. Middle row: Andrew Merritt, Nicolas Russell, Wesley Robinson, Randy Hurd. Bottom row: Hunter Klein, Tadd Truscott, Nathan Spiers

Splashlab 2013-2014: Year Four

This year we got a quadcopter and took some awesome data bouncing elastic spheres along 6 water tanks!  In the photo below top row left: Zhao Pan, Randy Hurd, Chris Maybe, Eric Hardester, Madison Boyer, Clarice.  Lower row: Jonathon Pendlebury, Tadd Truscott, Kip Hacking, Jeremy Ellis and Zach Smith.

More pictures of us!

Splashlab 2012-2013: Year Three

This was our largest group ever.  Many projects were started and several were finally published.  Upper row left to right: Kyle Bodily, Randy Hurd, Jordan Huey, Randy Munns, Eric Hardester. Next row from left: Ken Langley, Mikkel Hansen, Tadd Truscott, Wesley Fassman, Taylor Killian and Jonathon Pendlebury. Bottom row from left: Zhao Pan, Jeremy Ellis and Zach Smith.

Splashlab 2011-2012: Year Two

Aside from Josh, the same people but an expansion of the group. This was the year many wonderful things came together. Many papers were written our first grant was funded! Clockwise from upper left row: Matthew Elverud, Preston Murray, Randy Munns, Jesse Daily, Bryce McEwen, Tadd Truscott, Ken Langley, Jonathon Pendlebury, Alex Jafek.Kyle Bodily, Robert Klaus, Michael Wright, Joey Nielson, Taylor Killian & Eric Hardester.

Splashlab 2010-2011: Year One

Splashlab was concieved by these individuals. They are the first members of the lab and will always be remembered as the ‘starters’. Thanks to them we are what we are today. Upper row from left: Jeff Hendricks, Ken Langley, Bryce McEwen & Alex Jafek. Lower row from left: Michael Wright, Josh Bryson, Robert Klaus, Taylor Killian & Tadd Truscott.

Past Members

Jonathon Pendlebury
Kip Hacking
Eric Hardester
Alex Jafek
Jeremy Ellis
Wesley Fassmann
Jesse Daily
Kyle Bodily
Jordan Huey
Nicolas Russell
Randy Munns
Taylor Killian
Ken Langley
Michael Wright
Ryan Hermansen
Bryce McEwen
Robert Klaus
Jeff Hendricks
Joey Nielson
Madison Boyer

And many others that have not submitted info or photos!