Alexander Smits

Alexander Smits
Title/Position
Eugene Higgins Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Emeritus
Senior Scholar
D224 Engineering Quadrangle
Faculty Assistant
Melissa Nini

Research Area(s)

Fluid Mechanics

Short Bio

Member of the National Academy of Engineering.  Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  Honorary Fellow, Royal Aeronautical Society.  Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Australasian Fluid Mechanics Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  

Dr. Smits’s research interests are centered on fundamental, experimental research in turbulence and fluid mechanics. Particular aspects include Reynolds numbers scaling of turbulent flows, the effects of roughness; bio-inspired propulsion; drag reduction using liquid-infused porous surfaces; the behavior of turbulent flows at supersonic and hypersonic speeds; sports ball aerodynamics, and the development of new and improved measurement techniques.

He is the author (with J.P. Dussauge) of “Turbulent Shear Layers in Compressible Flow,” Springer-Verlag (2nd edition, 2005), author of “A Physical Introduction to Fluid Mechanics,” John Wiley & Sons. (2000), and editor (with T.T. Lim) of “Flow Visualization: Techniques and Examples,” Imperial College Press (2nd edition, 2011), as well as the author or co-author of more than 450 journal articles and papers in conference proceedings. He holds patents on testing the aerodynamics of golf balls, and on using femtosecond lasers in eye surgery and tattoo removal.  His awards include the IUTAM Batchelor Prize in Fluid Mechanics (2020), the APS Fluid Dynamics Prize (2019), the AIAA Aerodynamic Measurement Technology Award (2014), an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from University of Melbourne in Australia (2011), the Médaille de la Ville de Marseille (2009), the ASME Fluids Engineering Award (2007), the AIAA Pendray Aerospace Literature Award (2007), the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching from Princeton University (2007), and the AIAA Fluid Dynamics Award (2004). He was the Chair of the Division of Fluid Dynamics of APS (2007-2008), and the Editor-in-Chief of the AIAA Journal (2015-2021).

Selected Publications

  • Smits, A. J., “Some observations on Reynolds number scaling in wall-bounded flows.” Physical Review Fluids, Vol. 5(11) 110514, 2020.

  • Vallikivi, M., Ganapathasubramani, B. and Smits, A. J., “Spectral scaling in boundary layers and pipes at very high Reynolds numbers.” Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 771, pp. 303-326, 2015.

  • Floryan, D., Van Buren, T. and Smits, A. J., “Efficient cruising for swimming and flying animals is dictated by fluid drag.” PNAS, 201805941, 2018.

  • Van Buren, T. and Smits, A. J., “Substantial drag reduction in turbulent flow using liquid-infused surfaces.” Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 827, pp. 448-456, Sept 2017.

  • Hellström, L. H. O., Marusic, I. and Smits, A. J., “Self-similarity of the large-scale motions in turbulent pipe flow.” Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 792, R1, 2016.

  • Hartl, K. A. and Smits, A. J., “Scaling of a small scale burner fire whirl,” Combustion and Flame, Vol. 163, pp. 202-208, 2016.

  • Quinn, D. B., Lauder, G. V. and Smits, A. J. “Maximizing the efficiency of a flexible propulsor using experimental optimization.” Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 767, pp. 430-448, 2015.

  • Vallikivi, M., Ganapathasubramani, B. and Smits, A. J., “Spectral scaling in boundary layers and pipes at very high Reynolds numbers.” Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 771, pp. 303-326, 2015.

  • Smits, A. J., McKeon, B. J. and Marusic, I. “High Reynolds number wall turbulence,” Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 43, pp. 353-375, 2011.