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Training and Research Experiences in Nonlinear Dynamics

Experimental Studies of Nonlinear Systems: Turbulence and Flows

Daniel P. Lathrop 

Nonlinear dynamical systems are ubiquitous in nature. Their complex behavior gives rise to interesting phenomena such as chaos, turbulence and unpredictability. In the Lathrop Experimental Nonlinear Dynamics Laboratory, a variety of experiments are currently underway exploring the nonlinear characteristics of selected systems. These experiments include: superfluid Helium vortices; liquid metal dynamos and turbulence; rotating fluids in planetary geometries; and logic gate networks. 

Past work by undergraduate researchers has included:

  • Exploration of the dynamics of soap bubbles to understand the singularity formed at pinch-off
  • Studies of the relationship between the applied electric potential and the morphology of dendrites
  • Explorations of the dynamics of collapsing bubbles in a foam, through statistical analysis of audio recordings of steady-state foam
  • Understanding droplet separation in liquids by monitoring an applied electric current between the separating droplets

Professor Lathrop has had success in guiding undergraduate researchers, having mentored over 20 students, some of whom have appeared as coauthors in peer-reviewed publications such as Nature. Professor Lathrop aims to increase student independence by having the student manage and conduct all aspects of the research from experimental design to analysis and presentation. 

Additional information about the Lathrop Lab can be found at and by contacting Daniel Lathrop at 301-405-1594 or