Levin Brings to AE Expertise in Modeling, Simulation of Chemical Reacting Flows
Having established herself as an international authority in modeling and simulation of chemical reacting flows through a 34-year career, including in the Institute for Defense Analyses and at The Pennsylvania State University, Deborah A. Levin this fall has brought her considerable knowledge to Aerospace Engineering at Illinois.
“The focus of the (AE) department is very strong in compressible flows,” Levin said. “I’m very excited about the possibility of collaborating with a lot of people here.”
Coming into the department as a full professor, Levin has had a strong impact on the United States’ national space surveillance policy and practice. She also has contributed to the aerospace engineering areas of micro-propulsion, thermal protection materials, and spacecraft contamination, as well as theoretical particle approaches to modeling extreme thermochemical nonequilibrium.
Bringing six graduate students and a postdoctoral research associate with her to Illinois, Levin plans to expand her research into hypersonic flow-materials interactions.
“The modeling of the flow into porous materials is a hard problem,” Levin said. “We have an understanding of it at the nanometer scale, but I want to work at the micron and millimeter scale. There’s no fundamental connection of how the material responds to the flow, and there’s no computer capable of doing traditional molecular dynamics at millimeter length scales.”
To approach the problem, she said, her team will need to think more about the mechanical effects on the materials, and explore new algorithms. “It is a gold nugget for someone to make a credible extension to the larger scale,” Levin believes.
In her work, Levin will collaborate with AE Assistant Prof. Marco Panesi, whom Levin has known since Panesi’s graduate school days. Among his research interests are plasma-assisted combustion, hypersonics and hypersonic flows, and weakly ionized plasmas.
Levin is also considering the interaction of materials in the space plasma environment. Her team takes into account the space environment consisting of atomic oxygen, high energy ions, chemical and small electric propulsion thruster plumes, space debris, and combinations of future propellant systems such as electrospray/ionic liquids. A better understanding of these material interactions will enable the more efficient use of satellite platforms.
Levin’s research has been funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Missile Defense Agency and the National Science Foundation. She has published over 300 publications (142 refereed and 170 conference papers) that have been cited approximately 500 times, and she has been an invited speaker at key international conferences and symposia.
Levin is a 2014 Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). She is a 2013 recipient of the Penn State Engineering Society (PSES) Premier Research Award, and 2006 recipient of the PSES Outstanding Research Award.
Levin earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1974. She earned a PhD in chemistry in 1979 from the California Institute of Technology.
Her husband, Arne Fliflet, will be working starting this fall as a lecturer in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. He had retired from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., after having worked there 32 years as a plasma physicist.