UCLA Engineer Sam Taira Receives Top Department of Defense Research Fellowship – Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship


Kunihiko “Sam” Taira, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCLA specializing in computational fluid dynamics, was awarded a 2022 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship by the United States Department of Defense (DOD). It is the most prestigious research grant offered by the largest US government agency and includes up to $3 million over a period of five years to support projects addressing fundamental issues.

“It is geared toward bold and ambitious ‘blue sky’ research that will lead to extraordinary results that have the potential to revolutionize entire disciplines, create entirely new fields, or disrupt accepted theories and perspectives,” said program director Jean -Luc Cambier in the scholarship announcement.

Taira leads the Computational and Data-Driven Fluid Dynamics Group at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. The lab focuses on solving various problems in fluid mechanics, with particular emphasis on the areas of computational fluid dynamics, flow control, data science, network theory, and aerodynamics. unsteady.

The scholarship will support Taira’s work in developing a new field of study – extreme aerodynamics. The theory developed from the study could lead to major improvements in the design and operation of aircraft, allowing them to fly safely and smoothly in dangerous and dynamic atmospheric conditions, such as powerful storms and hurricanes. or high winds in the upper atmosphere, or in environments involving cityscapes and complex terrain where aerodynamics currently prove challenging. These concepts could also be applied in unstable environments at sea.

Taira is one of nine scholars – including three from University of California campuses – selected for the Class of 2022. The scholarship is named after one of the most prominent American engineers of the 20th century, Vannevar Bush, who led DOD’s Office of Scientific Research and Development.

Prior to joining UCLA Samueli in 2019, Taira was an associate professor at Florida State University. He received a BS in aerospace engineering from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, as well as an MS and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Caltech.

Other honors he has received include a pair of Young Investigator Awards from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Naval Research. At UCLA, Taira teaches courses in fluid dynamics, including a graduate class he developed that incorporates data science techniques.


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