Simone Steward furthers education with UCSB doctoral program

Simone Stewart, senior physics and Spanish major, was recently accepted to the doctorate program at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) for mechanical engineering.

Stewart is also president of Mortar Board and Vice President of Recruitment for Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority.

Stewart discovered this program while attending the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics Conference in Boston, where she met Eckart Meiburg, a professor at UCSB, who specializes in computational fluid dynamics and transport phenomena.

“After I gave my talk about my research, he encouraged me to apply for the program since there are several professors who work there that specialize in research related to fluid dynamics,” said Stewart.

According to Stewart, the application process was nothing surprising. UCSB averages about 300-400 doctoral applicants per year, and only accepts about 20. The program is about 78% male and 22% female.

“The program is five years long and I’ll be there taking classes for the first few years, and then once I’m at the candidacy stage for my PhD I’ll be doing my own research,” said Stewart.

Stewart has done research in the area for fluid dynamics of the past three years. Her research and honors project is the study of fluid instability, focusing on what happens when a fluid of low viscosity is pumped into a fluid of high viscosity. This particular phenomenon is called viscous fingering.

“Understanding this stability can be helpful in many environmental fields such as enhanced oil recovery and pollution dispersion,” said Stewart.

Stewart’s time at UCSB will be completely funded by the university. She has received the TA/RA-ship, meaning that she will be a teaching and research assistant and will receive a stipend every year for the five years that she is there. She will be continuing her research in fluid dynamics.

On March 11, Stewart will be attending a visit day for admitted students. She will be able to speak to professors, talk about research and get a general idea of what the program entails. She will also be able to meet other students who will be in the program.

“While I’m nervous, I feel that Jewell has prepared me well, especially in terms of undergraduate research,” said Stewart.

Stewart has also been acknowledged in a published paper and is currently a co-author of a paper published on the physics journal “Experiments in Fluids.” She has presented her research at a conference, and will have completed a thesis regarding this research by the end of this year.

“[This level of experience] can be viewed as a great advantage when applying to programs, because many students don’t get to do research of that caliber at the undergraduate level,” said Stewart.

As for post-graduate school, Stewart is not entirely sure what she is planning on doing. Once she earns her doctorate, she will have to choose between entering industry or academia. Another option would be to work for the government.

“I’ve been interested in government jobs for a while, and have considered options/will be eligible for jobs with the CIA, EPA or DOD,” said Stewart.

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