PhD Project: Wake interference by swimming crocodiles

Crocodiles, including the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) have the remarkable ability to swim underwater at high speed while barely making a ripple at the surface. It has been hypothesized that crocodiles are able to do this because the bony ridges on the crocodile’s back (called scutes or osteoderms) produce destructively interfering wake patterns at the water surface, like noise-cancelling headphones. Understanding and replicating this phenomena could have important implications for submarine and ship hull design.

In this project, we will evaluate this hypothesis using a combination of theory, numerical modelling, and laboratory experiments using 3D-printed crocodile models in a wave flume. Experience with Python programming is essential. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Geoff Vasil (U. Sydney), Dr Chris Lustri (Macquarie) and Dr Shane Keating (UNSW).

Click here for key dates and to submit your application online.


Geoffrey Vasil

Geoff Vasil is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sydney. His main research interests are the area of nonlinear dynamics of astrophysical and geophysical fluid systems. Geoff completed his PhD research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA in 2008 and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto, Canada before joining the faculty of the University of Sydney.

One of Geoff’s specific projects is working toward a better understanding of the how the Sun manufactures global magnetic fields on an eleven-year cycle. Also, Geoff is interested in many of the basic ingredients that make up systems like the Sun. To this end, he is actively working on understanding the fundamental laws of heat transport in turbulent convection systems. He has made fundamental progress in understanding the mechanism of baroclinic instability in the presence of convection. This will have a number of consequences for understanding the dynamics of the atmospheres of the giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn, as well as accretion disks.

Geoff also is interested in the difficult computational aspect that accompany many problems in astrophysics and geophysics. He is continuing work on modeling systems with extreme disparities in timescales, both analytically and numerically. He is one of the founding developers of the Dedalus Project, an open-source MPI-parallelized python library to solve partial differential equations, in particular those that arise in the field of fluid dynamics.

Personal website
Dedalus Project
University of Sydney School of Mathematics and Statistics