Johns Hopkins senior Tiras Lin wins Churchill Scholarship

Engineering student will use photography to study fluid dynamics at Cambridge BP Institute for Multiphase Flow

Image caption: Tiras Lin

Credit: Li Jung Huang

Tiras Lin, a Johns Hopkins University senior from San Rafael, Calif., has been selected as a Churchill Scholar by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. The Churchill Scholarship is awarded to 14 students nationwide who have demonstrated a capacity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the sciences, engineering, or mathematics by completing original, creative work at an advanced level.

As a 2013 Churchill Scholar, Lin will spend the next academic year pursuing a master of philosophy degree at the University of Cambridge in England. The foundation will provide full tuition and fees as well as a stipend for living expenses and travel.

Lin is one of two 2013 Churchill Scholars from Johns Hopkins. Lay Kodama, a senior who is majoring in neuroscience and the Writing Seminars, will also attend Cambridge in the fall through the scholarship. Hannah Joo, a member of the Johns Hopkins University class of 2012, is currently studying at Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar.

Lin, 21, is on track to earn his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Whiting School of Engineering in May before beginning his studies at Cambridge. He will conduct research with Colm-cille Caulfield of the Cambridge BP Institute for Multiphase Flow, a multidisciplinary research institute hosted by the Department of Earth Sciences. Lin plans to use photography to study the fluid dynamics of buoyant convection, in particular the turbulent plumes that develop when fluids of varying densities interact. He anticipates this work will offer practical insight into a range of industrial mixing and hazard analysis processes, such as the study of gas flows in mine shafts.

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to go to Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar and work with Dr. Caulfield," Lin said. "The opportunities for independent research at Hopkins have been incredible, and the advice and support from my professors and Dr. Kelly Barry, the director of Fellowships and Scholarships, helped make my application possible."

Lin has dedicated a lot of his time outside of the classroom to research projects, a hallmark of the Johns Hopkins undergraduate experience. He is a recipient of one of the university's Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards, and much of Lin's work springs from his longtime interest in photography. During his freshman year, it was Lin's skill behind the camera that helped him land a spot as a research assistant on a team led by Rajat Mittal, a professor of mechanical engineering in the Whiting School. His keen interest in studying insect flight patterns with Mittal, coupled with his photography skills, made him a strong candidate for the job, which required him to set up a high-speed videography laboratory. Funded by United States defense agencies, the team's research supports the development of bug-size flyers to carry out reconnaissance, search-and-rescue, and environmental monitoring missions without risking human lives.

Lin is the lead author of a paper discussing butterfly flight maneuvers, published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics in October 2012. He has presented some of his findings about butterfly flight patterns at two regional meetings of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and at an annual conference of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Additionally, he presented his work at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics in 2011; he was one of only a handful of undergraduates to speak at the prestigious international conference. In 2012, Lin was awarded the Johns Hopkins Charles A. Miller Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by an undergraduate in mechanical engineering.

After the conclusion of his Churchill Scholarship, Lin plans to enroll in a PhD program and continue studying fluid dynamics. Beyond his professional goals, he also hopes to pursue his future research from the point of view of popular culture and write science articles for broad audiences. Lin is the son of Wen Yang Lin and Li Jung Huang, and he graduated from Marin Academy High School in San Rafael, California.

The Winston Churchill Foundation was established in 1959, the same year that Churchill College at the University of Cambridge was established as the national and Commonwealth tribute to Sir Winston Churchill. The first three Churchill Scholarships were given in 1963, and with this new group there will be 479 Churchill Scholars. The Churchill Scholarship pays all university and college fees (ranging from $33,500 to $37,600), a living allowance (ranging from $17,700 to $21,000), transportation to and from the United Kingdom (up to $1,100), student visa expenses ($450), a travel award of $500, and a possible special research grant up to $2,000. Depending on the field of study, the Churchill Scholarship is worth from $52,800 to $62,600, depending on the rate of exchange.