KAUST alumnus honored by Xi'an Jiaotong University

KAUST alumnus Marie-Jean Thoraval has become the first foreign teacher to be selected for Xi'an Jiaotong University’s “10 Young Scholars of Distinction” award. Photo courtesy of Marie-Jean Thoraval.

-By David Murphy, KAUST News

Professor Marie-Jean Thoraval, one of the University's first Ph.D. graduates, has recently been recognized for his research at the School of Aerospace at Xi'an Jiaotong University, China. Thoraval, who works at the International Center for Applied Mechanics (ICAM), State Key Laboratory for Strength and Vibration of Mechanical Structures at Xi'an Jiaotong, was selected for the "10 Young Scholars of Distinction" award.

Thoraval, who is the first foreign teacher to be selected for the award, said he was honored and grateful to have been selected and feels that it is a result of the strong support shown to him by his current university. 

"I am very honored and grateful to have been selected for this award from among so many excellent scholars in Xi'an Jiaotong University. This reflects the strong support that I have received from the university and China to develop my research. Chinese universities are becoming more international very quickly, with most of the faculties having an international research experience and the development of new programs for international students and collaborations. This award also demonstrates the very dynamic research environment developing recently in Chinese universities as they welcome a growing number of excellent international researchers," Thoraval noted.

A large range of applications

The focus of Thoraval's current research is on the dynamics of interfacial flows, including drop-impact splashing, air entrapment and bubble coalescence. He combines high-speed imaging experiments with large-scale parallel numerical simulations. These studies have a large range of applications from inkjet printing to combustion or climate modeling.

During his time Xi'an Jiaotong University, Thoraval said he has developed some excellent research facilities to study drops' and bubbles' dynamics.

"I have been able to develop some very good research facilities in Xi'an Jiaotong University with high-speed cameras and other equipment needed to study the dynamics of drops and bubbles. I am now hoping to attract other excellent researchers to work together on related topics to share the main equipment and build a strong research group with different perspectives on these problems," he emphasized.

Time at KAUST

Thoraval received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Ecole Polytechnique in 2004 and his master's degree from both Ecole Polytechnique and Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace (ISAE-SUPAERO).

While at KAUST, he was the first mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate under the supervision of Professor Sigurdur Thoroddsen in the University's High-Speed Fluids Imaging Lab. After graduating from KAUST in August 2013, he moved to the Netherlands, where he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Twente.

Thoraval noted that his time at KAUST was an enriching and truly international experience.

"Besides the excellent faculty members and outstanding research facilities in KAUST, I have also benefited from working together with people from many different backgrounds and cultures. This is something very important in my current research group, which has people from seven different nationalities, and there are international collaborations developing," he said.