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Open PhD positions starting Fall 2021 at Vanderbilt University

Ravindra Duddu's picture

The Computational Mechanics and Physics Laboratory at Vanderbilt University has two PhD positions in the area of computational mathematics and mechanics with applications to glaciology. Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is a leading research-intensive university in the United States in engineering, science and technology.


Dynamic mass loss from the Antarctic ice sheet is significantly controlled by ice shelf buttressing and changes near the grounding line. Some Antarctic ice shelves provide resistance to ice flow into the ocean from upstream grounded glaciers, and the loss of this resistance or buttressing due to fracture, thinning, or enhanced damage to the ice-shelf margins could cause an increased flux of grounded ice flow into the ocean, thereby contributing to sea level rise. A key challenge is to understand how ice shelf weakening and fracture are influenced by complex ice-ocean-atmosphere feedback. This project will focus on simulating and understanding the flow and fracture mechanics associated with ice shelf weakening and fracture using hybrid Lagrangian-Eulerian formulations and finite-element/material-point methods.


  • Employ continuum damage mechanics and Stokes flow models to simulate rift propagation in open-source Python-based finite element code FireDrake/ICEPack
  • Use the FireDrake/ICEpack for data assimilation and inverse modeling for quantifying ice rheology
  • Investigate the role of hydrofracture and mélange-ice interactions on fracture propagation in Antarctic ice shelves
  • Generate useful datasets from remote sensing techniques using machine learning and perform statistical analysis


  • Applicants should have a Master’s or Bachelor’s degrees in Engineering, Engineering Mechanics, Physics, Applied Mathematics, or a relevant field.
  • A qualified candidate with a Bachelor’s degree will have taken basic courses in fluid mechanics, differential equations, linear algebra and computer programming. 
  • The ideal candidate with a Master’s degree will have knowledge on continuum solid/fluid mechanics, fracture mechanics and finite element methods. 
  • Essential requirements are strong quantitative and analytical skills, and experience in scientific programming (with Python or Fortran)
  • Good command of English in writing and speaking 

Timeline and contact:

The starting date can be in Fall 2021. Positions are for 4-5 years typically. Contact Prof. Ravindra Duddu with their CV.

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