Published: Dec. 6, 2023 By

Gesse Roure

PhD, Chemical Engineering, 2023

Dissertation Name: Microhydrodynamics of Droplets and Particles: Applications in Microfluidics and Agglomeration

Defended: July, 2023

Associated lab: Davis Group

Advisors: Distinguished Professor Robert H. Davis and Alexander Zinchenko, senior research associate

Current position: Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Missouri

College of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Dissertation Award
This award recognizes the best dissertation (excellence of research, topical importance and presentation in the written dissertation) among students completing PhD degree requirements during a calendar year.

As a student from Brazil, how did you choose CU Boulder for your graduate studies?
Multiple factors influenced my decision to come to CU. Firstly, having already completed a master's in a related field, I was familiar with the previous works of Rob (Davis) and Alex (Zinchenko), and that was my primary motivation for choosing CU for my graduate studies. Besides that, the high-quality research conducted across various departments, particularly in Chemical and Biological Engineering, closely matched my academic interests. The appealing town atmosphere, as confirmed during my time in Boulder, solidified my decision, making it an easy choice.

What does receiving this award mean to you?
I am deeply honored to receive this outstanding dissertation award, which, for me, is the culmination of several years of hard work and diligence, as it not only represents the acknowledgement of my previous work, but also serves as a source of motivation for my future academic pursuits. 

Tell me more about your research.
My dissertation explores the fascinating world of tiny-scale flows in science and engineering, especially focusing on two key challenges. First, we examined a sustainable method for capturing small particles in fluids using special droplets that slowly grow over time. The study reveals that the swelling of these droplets significantly improves particle capture efficiency, which is very useful for filtration, waste treatment and mineral recovery. In the second portion of the dissertation, the research focuses on the movement of tiny droplets in microchannels, which has applications ranging from medical diagnostic devices to targeted drug delivery. The findings include innovative approaches for shaping droplets and inducing effective mixing in microreactors, showcasing the potential for advancements in diverse microfluidic technologies. Overall, this work offers valuable insights into small-scale phenomena with broad applications across various scientific and engineering fields.

Why does this research topic interest you?
One thing that has always caught my attention is the ubiquitousness of fluids in nature. From the motion of hurricanes to the cytoplasm inside of a bacterium, there is always something flowing. The broad applications and interdisciplinary nature of fluid dynamics research are what specifically sparked my interest in this subject, as it offers a diverse range of opportunities to explore and understand various phenomena, making it an exciting and dynamic field.

Image above: Transport inside a droplet in a microfluidic trap subjected to an external tri-axial extensional flow.