Robert H. Davis

Rob Davis
Tisone Professor • Immediate Past Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science
(303) 492-7006

Office: JSCBB D127


B.S., University of California at Davis (1978)
M.S., Ph.D., Stanford University (1979, 1982)


  • ASME Certificate of Appreciation (Plenary Speaker), 2009
  • AIChE Fellow, 2009
  • Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Medal, University of California, Davis, 2006
  • Blue-Green Distinguished Lecturer, University of Michigan and University State University, 2006
  • Outstanding Service Award, Boulder Faculty Assembly, University of Colorado 2003
  • ASEE Dow Lectureship Award, 2002
  • Joe and Essie Smith Distinguished Lecturer, U.C. Davis, 2002
  • Outstanding Research Award, Boulder Faculty Assembly, University of Colorado, 2000
  • Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Engineering and Applied Science, 2000
  • Outstanding Service Award, College of Engineering and Applied Science, 1999
  • AIChE Excellence and Service Appreciation Award, 1999
  • University of Colorado Faculty Fellowship, 1997
  • Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award, Department of Chemical Engineering, 1996
  • AIChE Outstanding Paper Award, 1995
  • Outstanding Research Award, College of Engineering and Applied Science, 1993

Selected Publications

  • Smith, B.T., J.S. Knutsen, and R.H. Davis, “Empirical Evaluation of Inhibitory Product, Substrate, and Enzyme Effects During the Enzymatic Saccharification of Lignocellulosic Biomass,” Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology 161, 468-482 (2010).
  • Griggs, A.J., A.Z. Zinchenko, and R.H. Davis, “Creeping Motion and Pending Breakup of Drops and Bubbles Near an Inclined Wall,” J. Phys. Fluids. 21, 093303-1-093303-14 (2009).
  • Kantak, A.A., C.M. Hrenya, and R.H. Davis, “Initial Rates of Aggregation for Dilute, Granular Flows of Wet (Cohesive) Particles,” Phys. Fluids 21, 023301-023301-13 (2009).
  • Knutsen, J.S. and R.H. Davis, “Direct Visual Observation of Microfiltration Membrane Fouling,” in Monitoring and Visualizing Membrane Based Processes, ed. C. Guell, Wiley, VCH (2009).
  • Davis, R.H. and A.Z. Zinchenko, “Motion of Deformable Drops Through Granular Media and Other Confined Geometries,” J. Colloid and Interface Sci. 334, 113-123 (2009).
  • Rother, M.A. and R.H. Davis, “Buoyancy-driven Breakup of an Isolated Drop with Surfac-tant,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 044051-1-044501-4 (2008).
  • Zinchenko, A.Z. and R.H. Davis, “Algorithm for Direct Numerical Simulation of Emulsion Flow Through a Granular Material,” J. Comp. Phys. 227, 7841-7888 (2008).
  • Zinchenko, A.Z. and R.H. Davis, “Squeezing of a Periodic Emulsion through a Cubic Lattice of Spheres,” Phys. Fluids 20, 040803-040811 (2008).
  • Griggs, A.J., A.Z. Zinchenko, and R.H. Davis, “Gravity-driven Motion of a Deformable Drop or Bubble near an Inclined Plane at Low Reynolds Number,” Int. J. Multiphase Flow 34, 408-418 (2008).

Research Interests

Biotechnology and Biofuels, Complex Fluids, Membrane Separations
The research program of my group is rooted in chemical engineering fundamentals of fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, and reaction engineering. However, many of our projects are motivated by practical applications from biotechnology, the environment, and materials processing. These projects are currently divided into three sub-groups:

Biotechnology and Biofluidics: Our efforts have included cell aggregation and sedimentation and the controlled influence of these phenomena on improved bioreactor performance, with applications ranging from beer brewing to protein overexpression by recombinant bacteria to continuous mammalian cell culture. We have also studied reaction kinetics and novel bioreactor design for the enzymatic transcription of ribonucleic acids which have pharmaceutical potential due to their catalytic and selective binding properties. A current focus is on biofluidics for polymeric lab-on-a-chip devices.

Complex Fluids: Suspensions of fine particles or emulsions of droplets dispersed in a fluid are found in many natural and industrial applications, including biological systems, raindrop growth, polymer processing, liquid-liquid extraction, mineral flotation, and the processing of composite materials. The physical mechanisms governing particle or droplet motion in suspensions include gravity, Brownian diffusion, van der Waals attraction, electrostatic repulsion, electrophoresis, thermocapillary and solutalcapillary migration, and convective motion due to stirring or imposed flow. Our analytical, computational and experimental research includes microphysical studies of the fundamental interactions between particles or droplets, and macrophysical studies of applications such as sedimentation, filtration, aggregation, coalescence, flotation, and phase separation.

Membrane Separations: Microporous membranes provide low-energy means for performing critical separations in water treatment, beverage processing, biotechnology, and other industries. Our research on membrane separations has included mathematical modeling of crossflow microfiltration and the development of a rapid backpulsing technique for overcoming the detrimental effects of membrane fouling. Application areas have focused on biological suspensions and waste waters.