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Paul E. Dimotakis

Dr. Paul Emmanuel Dimotakis
John K. Northrop Professor of Aeronautics,
and Professor of Applied Physics,
and Senior Research Scientist,
Jet Propulsion Laboritory,
California Institute of Technology.

Address: Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories, 301-46
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California 91125
Tel: (626) 395-4456
Fax: (626) 395-4447

B.Sc., Physics - California Institute of Technology, 1968.
M.Sc., Nuclear Engineering - California Institute of Technology, 1969.
Ph.D., Applied Physics - California Institute of Technology, 1973.

Dr. Paul Dimotakis is the John K. Northrop Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Applied Physics at Caltech. He also served as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Chief Technologist from 2006 to 2011. He earned a B.Sc. in Physics, M.Sc. in Nuclear Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Caltech, staying on as a member of the Caltech faculty. His research has focused on experimental, computational, and theoretical investigations of turbulent-flow phenomena, with an emphasis on turbulent transport and mixing, in chemically reacting and non-reacting flows, and combustion. He and his co-workers have developed many experimental facilities and laser diagnostics, and introduced advances in signal processing, high-speed digital temporal- and image-data acquisition techniques, high-speed CCD imager design, and image-data processing. His more-recent research has extended to numerical simulations of turbulent and high-speed flows. His space-related activities, include work on an Orbital Geophysical Observatory (OGO-C) satellite in the 1960s, on the development of the Space Shuttle aerodynamics, the analysis of the Galileo antenna deployment anomaly, early discussions on the Mars Pathfinder mission landing system, the analysis of prelaunch test data of the SIRTF-Spitzer cryostat tank, and the analysis of the Mars Science Laboratory parachute, helping manage the development of the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS), and help manage the solution of high-voltage power supply issues. In recent research, he and his co-workers are conducting experimental, theoretical, and numerical investigations of the effects of heat release in supersonic-propulsion flows, is collaborating with JPL in assessing the estimation of atmospheric CO2 vertical profiles from space-borne measurements, and is leading an effort at Caltech to study the possibility of bringing a small asteroid in orbit around the Earth of moon. In work outside Caltech and as a consultant, he contributed to the development of early pilotless drones, high-power chemical lasers, the stealth fighter, helped with the design of the "Leap-Frog fountain" at Disney's Epcot Center in Florida, contributed to the sail design of America3's successful defense of the America's Cup, and assisted with compressible and incompressible turbulence problems at the DOE national Labs. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and has served and continues to serve on advisory groups to the U.S. government.


Date Description Institution
Jun 2014 Fluid Dynamics Award AIAA
Jun 2013 Exceptional Group Achievement Award NASA
Jun 2010 Fellow Am. Inst. Aero. & Astro.
Feb 2008 Fellow Am. Assoc. Adv. Science
Jun 1995 ASCIT Teaching Award Caltech 
Feb 1995 John K. Northrop chair Caltech
Jun 1989 Associate Fellow Am. Inst. Aero. & Astro.
Nov 1980 Fellow Am. Phys. Society
Jun 1968 George Green Memorial Award Caltech
Jun 1964 Delta Oration Prize Athens College


Date Degree Institution 
Jan 1973 Ph.D. Applied Physics Caltech 
Jun 1969 M.Sc. Nuclear Engineering Caltech 
Jun 1968 B.Sc. Physics (honors) Caltech 
Jun 1964 Gymnasium diploma Athens College 

Research interests/experience:

1. Turbulent mixing, chemically reacting flows, and combustion.

2. Compressible/incompressible turbulence and gasdynamics.

3. Shock focusing in gases and liquids.

4. Earth system modeling, atmospheric transport, and remote (space-borne) sensing.

5. Cryogenic fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and instrumentation.

6. High-energy/chemical lasers.

7. Inertial confinement fusion.

8. Aero-/hydro-dynamic noise.

9. Aero-optics, adaptive optics, and beam propagation and imaging through turbulence.

10. Active control of turbulent shear flows.

11. Cavitation.

12. Computational fluid dynamics.

a. Large-scale Direct-Numerical Simulations (DNS.

b. Large Eddy Simulations and Sub Grid Scale (LES-SGS) modeling.

13. Advanced diagnostic techniques and instrumentation, including:

a. Laser Doppler Velocimetry

b. Ultrasonic velocimetry

c. Particle streak/tracking velocimetry

d. Image Correlation Velocimetry

e. Rayleigh scattering and laser-induced fluorescence diagnostics and imaging

f. Digital image acquisition and processing

g. Multi-frame/high-speed/low-noise digital-imaging technology