Dr Rob Sturman


Exploiting ideas from chaos theory to mix fluids efficiently has a large range of applications throughout engineering. Understanding the mathematical details of this process, for example how fast or how well a device mixes, is a challenge. I use the ergodic theory of dynamical systems to investigate this.


  • Pro Dean for International
  • Programme Manager, Mathematics and Music
  • University Student Education Fellow

Research interests

I am interested in applying ideas from ergodic theory and dynamical systems to fluid mixing problems. Chaotic mixing in fluids has for a long time been studied from the topological viewpoint, with the existence of a horseshoe frequently pointing the way towards chaotic dynamics, and hence mixing. However, horseshoes are objects of zero volume, and as such do not guarantee that islands of unmixed fluid do not exist. Ergodic theory, and in particular linked twist maps, gives a framework in which mixing results on sets of positive (and even full) volume can be formulated. I have applied these ideas to a range of different physical situations, including DNA hybridisation chambers, channel flows and granular tumblers. I have recently become interested in the idea of mixing by cutting and shuffling.

Research groups and institutes

  • Applied mathematics

Postgraduate research opportunities

We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our research opportunities allow you to search for projects and scholarships.