Catherine Sulem, a professor in the department of mathematics, has been a faculty member since 1990. She is an internationally recognized expert in the complex mathematics describing “the motion of the free surface of a fluid under the influence of gravity and surface tension” – in other words, phenomena such as ocean waves.
Such phenomena are classified as non-linear and the tools Sulem uses in her work are known as partial differential equations, which are also used in optics and the study of plasma (a fourth state of matter along with solid, liquid and gas).
During the two-year fellowship, Sulem will focus on two main projects. In one, she will study how large-amplitude waves interact with each other; how the topology of the ocean floor affects wave formation; and how waves on and below the surface interact with each other. In the other, she will further her research into waves in optics and plasmas.
“The study of ocean waves has important applications in oceanography and coastal engineering,” said Sulem. “It is central to the prediction of key features of waves and currents, and their effect on weather and climate.”
Sulem was elected an Inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2013 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2015.
“I am very honoured to be awarded this research fellowship,” said Sulem. “I look forward to a productive couple of years where I can focus on full-time research and, I hope, achieve some of the goals that have inspired my research for many years.”