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.