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Dr Helen Czerski
404, Roberts Building
Fax: Internal ext: 51322
  • Lecturer
  • Dept of Mechanical Engineering
  • Faculty of Engineering Science

Helen graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2001 with a BA and MSci in Natural Sciences (Physics), and again in 2006 with a PhD in experimental explosives physics. During this time she also worked at the University of Toronto in Canada and Los Alamos National Laboratory in the USA. A continuing fascination with the world of small-scale phenomena that happen too fast for humans to perceive led her from explosives to the study of ocean bubble formation. After three and a half years spent working in the USA (at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the Graduate School of Oceanography at URI), she returned to the UK in 2010 as a research fellow at the ISVR. Her interests are the optics and acoustics of bubbles, the structure of the bubble plumes in breaking waves, and the influence of bubbles on air-sea gas transfer.

She’s also passionate about public engagement on scientific topics, and has extensive experience of public lectures and demonstrations, as well as science media work.   You can find out more about that here.

Research Summary

My research topic is the physics of the bubbles that are formed underneath breaking waves out in the open ocean.    Bubbles are an important component of the boundary between the ocean and the atmosphere.   The sea and the sky are both enormous, and anything that is exchanged between those two enormous things has to go through a very thin layer at the surface of the ocean.   And in lots of places (especially when it's very windy), that layer is full of bubbles.    In particular, bubbles help the exchange of different gases in both directions across the boundary, and they also spit tiny particles (aerosols) up into the sky.   These sorts of details are important in weather and climate models, and my aim is to provide to those models the basic information about how bubbles form and what they contribute.

My particular focus is natural bubble coatings.  These change the way bubbles are formed and destroyed, and they have a strong influence on the bubble's ability to transport gases and particles.   I have laboratory experiments to study the fundamental physics of coated bubbles, and I go to sea to catch them in action.

Teaching Summary
Co-ordinator for the first year module on Thermodynamics & Fluid Mechanics for the Mechanical Engineering students: MECH103P

Lecturer on course ENGS103P - Mathematical Modelling and Analysis I. 

I am currently advertising for a PhD student.  Details of that project are here.

I also co-ordinate the London Ocean Group

Academic Background
2006 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Physics University of Cambridge
2001 BA Bachelor of Arts – Natural Sciences University of Cambridge
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