Professor Arindam Banerjee, an international expert in fluid dynamics, has been named chair of Lehigh's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, effective July 1, 2021.

Banerjee leads Lehigh’s Turbulent Flow Design Group and conducts research in multi-scale fluid dynamics with particular emphasis on energy and biological systems. He joined the Rossin College faculty as an assistant professor in 2012 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2020.

Banerjee’s research group works on turbulent flows with applications related to hydrodynamic instabilities, marine renewable energy, and pulmonary fluid dynamics. His research is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Office of Naval Research.

“Our department is known nationally for excellence in engineering education and research, and our students are recognized for their solid mechanical engineering fundamentals, hands-on approach to solving complex problems, and strong work ethic,” says Banerjee. “I envision building on this strong reputation to firmly establish the department as one of the top 40 mechanical engineering departments in the country.”

Together with faculty, students, staff, and campus leadership, Banerjee says he will pursue strategic initiatives around faculty hiring (in research areas of growth/societal need), the development of large-scale research programs (through Lehigh’s Interdisciplinary Research Institutes), curriculum integration and enrichment (with an emphasis on one-year MS tracks), and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“We are committed to the principles of equity and diversity and broadening participation,” he says. “Through expanded outreach efforts, our department can continue to increase diversity and quality as we support faculty and students in their research and educational endeavors.”

Passing the baton

Current chair D. Gary Harlow, a professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics and a leading expert on engineering probability, statistics modeling, and materials reliability research and development, has led the department since 2008.

During his tenure, Harlow oversaw the hiring of numerous faculty members who, among them, won seven prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER awards and four Young Investigator awards from Department of Defense agencies.

“Gary cultivated a highly supportive, collegial environment within our department that, in turn, had a major influence on advancement of our undergraduate and graduate programs,” says Donald Rockwell, Paul B. Reinhold Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics.

Over the years, Harlow has mentored more than 100 student-athletes through the successful completion of academically rigorous courses of study in mechanical engineering at all levels.

Arindam Banerjee with students
Banerjee received the Rossin College’s Outstanding Doctoral Student Advising Award in 2019. (Photo: Kate Duffy Photography)

Recognitions and service

Banerjee has also been recognized for his mentorship of graduate students, earning the Rossin College’s Outstanding Doctoral Student Advising Award in 2019. He and his students have built several unique devices to effectively investigate the dynamics of fluids and other materials under the influence of high acceleration and centrifugal force. Their study of two-fluid mixing at conditions relevant to those in inertial confinement fusion seeks to advance understanding of the fundamental hydrodynamics and physics of the fusion reaction.

Banerjee is the associate editor for the Journal of Fluids Engineering, published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a member of ASME and the American Physical Society, as well as an editorial board member for the journal Renewable Energy.

He received funding through the NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program in 2015 to study the physics of mixing molten metal plasma and hydrogen gas in the fusion process. He is a recipient of Lutron’s Joel and Ruth Spira Teaching Award (2015) and Lehigh’s Libsch Early Career Research Award (2017).

Prior to joining the Lehigh faculty, Banerjee served as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Missouri, Rolla. He earned his PhD in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University (2006) and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in computational physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2006-2007). He also holds an MS from the Florida Institute of Technology (2002) and a BS from Jadavpur University, India (1999), both in mechanical engineering.

Arindam Banerjee by Ryan Hulvat

Mechanical engineering and mechanics professor Arindam Banerjee will take on the role of department chair on July 1. Photo by Ryan Hulvat

D. Gary Harlow

Professor D. Gary Harlow has served as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics since 2008.