Chris Chungkei Lai

Brief Biography: 

Dr. Chris Chungkei Lai is a Hong Kong native, received his BEng and MPhil degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Hong Kong. He pursued PhD research on oil spill modeling at Texas A&M University and was awarded his degree in December 2015. In the following three years (2016-2019), he was a postdoctoral research associate at the Extreme Fluids Team (P-23, Physics Division) at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. In November 2019, he joined CEE at Georgia Tech as an assistant professor in the Water Resources group. 

Chris's research focuses on understanding the role of fluid turbulence in environmental processes and applications. He has previously worked on (1) marine outfall designs for treated domestic wastewater and brine discharges from desalination plants, (2) accidental oil spills modeling for disaster management (e.g. 2010 Deep Horizon spill in Gulf of Mexico), and (3) the role of large fluid density gradients in shaping turbulent flows as seen in inertial confinement fusion. His work combines experiments, theories, and mathematical modeling to develop simplified, yet physics-based, engineering predictive models to aid in management-level decisions. His current research interests focus on how turbulence mediates (1) mass transport and exchange in coastal vegetation and forest canopy, (2) mixing and flow structures in hyporheic zone (the porous soil layer between a river and deep groundwater), and (3) mixing in stratified water bodies.

Last Name: 
Office Building: 
Mason Building
Lee, J.H.W., Cheung, V. and Lai, C.C.K. 2008. JETLAG2008 - An Update, Croucher Laboratory of Environmental Hydraulics, University of Hong Kong, 45pp.
Office #: 
Affinity Group / Department: 
Environmental Engineering
Water Resources Engineering
Academic Faculty
Ph.D., Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, 2015
MPhil, University of Hong Kong, 2009
BEng (Civil Engineering), University of Hong Kong, 2007
First Name: 
Job Title: 
Assistant Professor
Research Interests: 
Experimental fluid mechanics
Role of turbulence in environmental processes
Turbulence theory and modeling
Multiphase flows
Solid-fluid interactions
Laser-based optical techniques for fluid flow measurements
Publications (Articles): 
Bordoloi, A., Lai, C.C.K., Clark, L. Veliz, G. and Variano, E. 2020. Turbulence statistics in a negatively buoyant multiphase plume (to appear), Journal of Fluid Mechanics.
Lai, C.C.K. and Socolofsky, S.A. 2019. The turbulent kinetic energy budget in a bubble plume. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 865:993-1041
Wang, B., Lai, C.C.K. and Socolofsky, S.A. 2019. Mean velocity, spreading and entrainment characteristics of weak bubble plumes in unstratified and stationary water. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 874:102-130
Lai, C.C.K., Charonko, J. and Prestridge, K. 2018. A Karman-Howarth-Moin equation for variable-density turbulence. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 843:382-418
Lai, C.C.K. and Socolofsky, S.A. 2018. Evaluation of linear autoregressive models for estimation of energy spectra in gappy turbulent velocity data. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, 16(1):1-21
Fratantonio, D., Lai, C.C.K., Charonko, J.J. and Prestridge, K. 2019. How is the eigenframe of the rate-of-strain tensor perturbed by density gradients? 72nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, 23-26 Nov., Seattle, Washington, USA
Lai, C.C.K., Charonko, J.J. and Prestridge, K. 2018. The small-scale kinematics of a variable-density turbulent jet. 71st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, 18-20 Nov., Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Fraga, B., Lai, C.C.K., Chan, R. and Dodd, M. 2018. Energy cascade in a homogeneous swarm of bubbles rising in a vertical channel, 71st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, 18-20 Nov., Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Lai, C.C.K. and Socolofsky, S.A. 2018. Measurement of the global kinetic energy budget of a steady round buoyant jet and its application to improve estimate of dissipation rate, 8th International Symposium on Environmental Hydraulics, 4-7 June, University of Notre Dame, USA
Lai, C.C.K., Charonko, J.J. and Prestridge, K. 2017. A Karman-Howarth-Monin equation for variable-density turbulence. 70th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, 19-21 Nov., Denver, Colorado, USA
GoMRI (Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative) scholar (2012-2015)