Date January 17, 2024
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Brown engineer earns prestigious early career award from National Science Foundation

The grant will help Daniel Harris establish a more complete understanding of particles at interfaces, and share new experimental designs and methods that others can adapt for use in related research.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The National Science Foundation has awarded Daniel Harris, an assistant professor of engineering at Brown University, a Faculty Early Career Development grant.

The CAREER program is the federal agency’s most prestigious honor in support of early-career faculty and will provide Harris with $570,000 over a five-year period. The aim is to support early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

At Brown’s School of Engineering, Harris leads a research team that explores fluid mechanics and soft matter using experimental and mathematical modeling techniques. The team’s work has ranged from developing new tools to help researchers better understand the movements of microorganisms; to helping to directly measure the forces that cause small objects to cluster together on the surface of a liquid, a phenomenon known as the “Cheerios effect”; to providing insights on how partially submerged objects experience drag; to investigating forces during water entry.

“Our lab focuses on fluid mechanics with specific attention to interfacial phenomena,” Harris said. “Our experimental work is primarily centered around custom tabletop experiments, so we do a lot of design and prototyping whenever we work to address a new research question. As a very hands-on and visual person, I am drawn to these types of experiments that can be easily handled and visualized with still and high-speed photography.”

"Engaging with the public is a great way to communicate our results and the importance of science and engineering more generally."

Daniel Harris Assistant Professor of Engineering
Daniel Harris

The lab explores connections between art, craft and science, while also conducting public outreach efforts. Last year, Harris led teams that won a video competition and a poster competition at meetings of the American Physical Society.

“Over the past several years, our lab has coordinated a school-wide ‘Engineering Day’ as part of ICERM’s Girls Get Math program,” Harris said. “We also routinely run local hands-on STEAM workshops in the community — most recently for the Community Libraries of Providence and Youth Pride, Inc. Engaging with the public is a great way to communicate our results and the importance of science and engineering more generally. In particular, working with youth has been a great pleasure, as such young students have nearly unrestricted curiosity and creativity.”

Harris will use funding from the CAREER grant to expand his work integrating experimental and theoretical research on the motion of solid particles at a fluid interface. He’ll also continue to focus on education and outreach activities including introducing undergraduate research experiences into the engineering curriculum and continuing hands-on workshops in partnership with local camps and public libraries.

Harris joins a number of Brown faculty who have been awarded National Science Foundation grants as part of the CAREER program. Recent Brown winners include Kareen Coulombe, Anita Shukla, Melody Chan, Nicolas Fawzi, George Konidaris, Joo-Hyun Song, Colleen Dalton, Nora Ayanian, Franklin Goldsmith, David Henann and Andrew Peterson.