Arezoo M. Ardekani

Arezoo M. Ardekani

2020 Metzner Awardee

Purdue University

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For highly innovative theoretical and computational research on the motion of particles and swimming organisms in viscoelastic fluids and flow of complex fluids through porous media, which are opening up new approaches to environmental remediation, energy production, and the design of biomedical devices.

Arezoo Ardekani, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, is the recipient of the 2020 SOR Arthur Metzner Early Career Award. Arezoo’s research addresses complex fluids, biological flows, suspensions, active matter and transport of particles and cells. Through computational simulations, theoretical analyses, and experiments, her research deepens understanding of i) the transport of particles and microorganisms in density-stratified environments found in oceans and lakes, ii) the motion of particles and microorganisms in complex fluids, and more recently iii) complex fluids through porous media.

Arezoo received her B.S. from Sharif University of Technology in Iran in 2003, and M.S. and PhD in 2005 and 2009, respectively, from the University of California Irvine under the supervision of Professors Daniel Joseph and Roger Rangel. Her PhD work focused on particle interaction, deformation, and collision in viscous and viscoelastic fluids. After graduation, Arezoo joined MIT Mechanical Engineering as a Shapiro postdoctoral fellow. At MIT, her research focused on the dynamics of bead formation, filament thinning, and breakup in viscoelastic jets with Professor Gareth McKinley; she showed her versatility, as she also collaborated with Professors Roman Stocker and Tom Peacock on density-stratified fluids problems. After her postdoc, Arezoo joined the University of Notre Dame as the O’Hara Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering in 2011 and subsequently, Purdue School of Mechanical Engineering in 2014. In the summer of 2016, she was a visiting professor at the Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse.

A Fellow of ASME (2020), Arezoo has received a number of awards during her faculty career. These include the Society of Engineering Science Young Investigator Medal (2020), the Sigma Xi Mid-career Research Award (2020). Arezoo received an NSF CAREER Award (2012), and was honored with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2016. At Purdue, she has received the College of Engineering Faculty Excellence Awards for Graduate Student Mentorship (2020) and Early Career Research (2019), and she was named a Purdue University Faculty Scholar (2020-2025).

Arezoo has pioneered study of swimming in densify-stratified fluids with crucial environmental applications. Her research demonstrated that density variations encountered by organisms at pycnoclines, regions of sharp vertical variation in fluid density, have a major effect on the flow field, energy expenditure, and nutrient uptake of small organisms (J. Fluid Mech., 2019, Phys. Rev. Fluid, 2017, Scientific Report, 2015, PNAS, 2012; Phys. Rev. Lett., 2010). She has also shown that density stratification suppresses bioconvection, leading to aggregation of micro-organisms and formation of algal blooms (J. Fluid Mech., 2013, 2014, Phys Rev Fluids, 2017 (invited article)).

Arezoo’s research has made fundamental contributions toward understanding the transport of microorganisms in complex fluids, revealing that swimming bacteria and spermatozoa, which use whip-like flagella to propel themselves, are able to increase their speed while consuming less energy because of the shear-thinning behavior of their surrounding fluid (J. Fluid Mech. 2015). She demonstrated that the thickness of bacterial flagellum is often smaller than the radius of gyration of long polymer chains, e.g. in respiratory bacterial infection. The existing theories based on continuum models fail to correctly describe bacterial motion in such cases. Ardekani has developed computational tools to overcome this limitation (Phys. Rev. Fluid 2018) and showed that as the polymer size increases, the viscosity experienced by the flagellum asymptotically reduces to the solvent viscosity, in agreement with experiment.

Ardekani also studied the collective motion of rodlike microbes in viscoelastic fluids and found that the fluid elasticity significantly reduces large scale flow structures generated by motile microorganisms generating thrust behind their bodies (Phys. Rev. Lett. 2016). This provided a framework for examination of the effects of rheological properties of the surrounding fluid and cell motility on the accumulation of microbes. Arezoo launched a research program on injectable biologics, where she is investigating different aspects of their transport (Pharm. Res., 2020, Int. J. Pharm., 2020, Trends Biotechnol. 2020). Recently, her team is investigating the role of roughness on the rheology of concentrated suspensions and slurries (J. Rheol. 2019 and 2020).

Ardekani is an Associate Editor of ASME Applied Mechanics Review and an Editorial Advisory Board Member of the Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics and the International Journal of Multiphase Flow. She is currently serving as an American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) Member at Large and DFD representative on the Irwin Oppenheim award Selection Committee. Ardekani currently advises thirteen Ph.D. students and a postdoc. She has graduated seven Ph.D. students and eight M.S. students – all studying on different aspects of complex fluids and biological flows. We look forward to her contribution to The Society of Rheology for many years.