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2008 Distinguished Research Professor: Ephraim J. Gutmark

Selection as a Fellow in the most prestigious organization in his field, a dual appointment in two UC colleges and a faculty award: the career of Ohio Eminent Scholar Gutmark quietly took off to new heights.

Date: 5/10/2008
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Dottie Stover, photojournalist
One of Ephraim Gutmark
One of Ephraim Gutmark's areas of research is in quieting turbines.

Ephraim (“Effie”) Gutmark joined the University of Cincinnati (UC) in 2000 as the Ohio Eminent Scholar Chaired Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. One of his many areas of expertise is noise reduction of jet engines. Gutmark wondered if the principles of minimizing noise that engineers applied to airplane engines could be used in reverse, for physicians to maximize vocal production in humans.

The result was the UC Voice, Airway and Swallowing Consortium, of which Gutmark is research director.

“We created the consortium in collaboration with the ENT department of the UC College of Medicine, with the Divisions of Pulmonary Medicine and Otolaryngology at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center,” says Gutmark. “Our goal is to build a physics-based understanding of voice production and airway dynamics to, in turn, improve clinical treatments for voice and airway disorders.”

Graduate student Chris Harris worked in Gutmark
Graduate student Chris Harris worked in Gutmark's lab with lasers on larynx/jet engine research. (Photo by Lisa Ventre)

In 2007, he received a secondary appointment as a Professor of Otolaryngology in UC’s College of Medicine. Gutmark says that his secondary appointment gave him “a great opportunity to extend my activities from the field of aerospace engineering to new areas of medicine. It opened new horizons for me and enabled me to apply the understanding of the physics of interaction between flow and acoustics to airway and voice research.”

Then, late in 2007, Gutmark received one of the highest honors in his field. He was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

“It is a great honor for me because the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is the largest and most important organization of aerospace engineering,” Gutmark said upon being notified of the award. “I appreciate that my colleagues and the aerospace community respect my contributions to this field and judge them as deserving such a high honor.”

Coincidentally, while he was being deemed a Fellow of the AIAA, his colleagues in the UC College of Engineering were nominating him at the same time for the UC Distinguished Research Professorship. Awatef Hamed, head of UC's Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics said that her own research interests overlap with some of Gutmark's.

"I can state with no doubt that he is among the top one percent of scientists and engineers that I have encountered during my long career," she wrote in her letter of support.

His accolades might not stop there, for his admirers are many.

University of Arizona Professor of Aerospace Engineering Israel Wygnanski wrote, "Dr. Gutmark is an outstanding educator and scientist. He has led his team to outstanding achievements and has distinguished himself as one of the top leaders in jet noise and combustion science in the world." Wygnanski also pointed out that less than three percent of the AIAA's 35,000 members are recognized with the distinction as an AIAA Fellow.

"Dr. Gutmark's exceptional capability stems from a rare combination of personal traits: an outstanding analytical ability and professional skillsk unparalleled and catching enthusiasm for his work, strong and unrelenting drive to achieve goals, and most of all a pleasant yet authoritative personality that aspires self-motivation in his colleagues and students," Wygnanski wrote in his letter of support.

Ephraim Gutmark received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. He has worked in industry, government and academe. Prior to joining the University of Cincinnati, he was a chaired Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Louisiana State University from 1995 to 2000. He joined the faculty at LSU after working as a Senior Research Scientist at the Naval Air Warfare Center in California where he developed a national program on flow and combustion control.
Gutmark has distinguished himself with more than 30 years of outstanding innovative contributions that have affected diverse engineering areas. The breadth of his research has been exceptional and his innovations span several technologies, including stable and clean combustion, quiet aircraft engines, improved missile propulsion systems, aerodynamic flight control, turbomachinery for power generation, automotive turbochargers and new actuators.

In his letter nominating Gutmark for the award, College of Engineering Dean Carlo Montemagno wrote, "His career accomplishments before joining UC were extraordinary and certainly earned him the right and distinction of being named an Ohio Eminent Scholar. At UC, the achievements of his research group and his personal credentials place his research group among the top flow, combustion and aeroacoustics research teams in the world."

In the field of aeroacoustics, his fluidic technology for jet noise reduction is planned to be tested on GE engine demonstrator. His passive combustion control technology enabled stable operation of 500MW Swiss power generation gas turbines. His elliptic and other non circular jets inventions found applications in many fields. His original invention of the zero mass flow actuator which was later called “synthetic jet” developed into a major component of flow control systems (156,000 hits in Google). Gutmark has channeled his extensive capabilities into a remarkable number of U.S. and European patents (51 approved and 8 pending). His expertise was utilized by major industries in the US and Europe including GE, Boeing, Honeywell, Goodrich Aerospace, ABB, Alstom, Allison Rolls-Royce, Siemens, and Halliburton — among others.

Since joining UC, he has been instrumental in generating more than 30 new research projects in a wide range of topics. These include jet noise, turbomachinery noise, flow/structure interactions, passive and active noise control, duct acoustics, tiltrotor noise, computational aeroacoustics, combustion control, flameless combustion, afterburner research, heat transfer, biomedical fluid dynamics and others. The national and international media, including the Discovery series of BBC, has covered his unique interdisciplinary work on voice and airway research.

Thanks to Gutmark’s research, UC is one of only a handful of universities that performs research on a new propulsion concept called “Pulsed Detonation Engines (PDE).” Gutmark initiated this research at UC and has developed one of the most advanced labs in the world. In fact, UC’s is the only lab that has the capability of studying hybrid engines with multiple PDEs, technology that Aviation Week termed “the propulsion system of the future.” UC applied for two patents based on technology developed in this lab. Air Force Research Laboratory, GE Research Center, NASA and Boeing have not only funded this activity, but have submitted joint proposals and journal publications with Gutmark and his team.

The research performed in the Gas Dynamics and Propulsion Laboratory under Gutmark’s direction include combustion control for low emissions, performance enhancement of PDEs, jet noise reduction and duct acoustics, biomedical fluid dynamics and aeroacoustics, flow-structure interactions, flight control using fluidic actuators, afterburners research, heat transfer and aerodynamics of turbine blades, fuel injectors for scramjet propulsion, and innovative hydrodynamics for oil-well drilling. In a national competition conducted by the Air Force, called the “Campus Challenge,” Gutmark’s collaborative proposal with Ohio University on the development of an “Aerial Robotic Transformer” was selected as one of the two finalists, out of over 30 proposals that were submitted by the nation’s top engineering programs, and received funding for advanced development of the concept.

He is an associate editor of the AIAA Journal, a Fellow of the UC Graduate School, and a recipient of the College Distinguished Engineering Researcher award.

In addition to his high-profile research activities, Gutmark is also an excellent teacher. Although he has been teaching many graduate level classes, he prefers to teach undergraduate classes that put him in touch with the high-quality students early in their program. He then nurtures the students and after graduation recruits them for his graduate research.

Wygnanski wrote that Gutmark "can present results of high sophisticaion and complexity in a clear and simplified manner that emphasizes the understanding of physical phenomena. It is always rewarding to listen to his talks and to read his papers, in which he presents state-of-the-art knowledge in the most comprehensive and lucid manner."

PhD student Rodrigo Villalva works with Gutmark at the lab in Center Hill.
PhD student Rodrigo Villalva works with Gutmark at the lab in Center Hill.

Due to Gutmark’s extensive interaction with universities abroad, he has been able to place several of his undergraduate and graduate students in those institutions for short courses or training, thereby enriching students’ educational experience at the University of Cincinnati.

"Effie Gutmark is unquestionably one of the most dedicated and creative faculty members in the world in the area of jet flows, high-speed flow diagnostics, gas turbine heat transfer research and flow control," wrote Paul Strykowski, a professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean at the University of Minnesota.

"He isn't afraid to tackle challenging problems, publishing classic works in the top academic journals while simultaneously solving real problems at flow conditions virtually unheard of in the university setting. Effie is a remarkable individual, not only capable of solving tough engineering problems, but also one of the most inspirational scientists/engineers I have ever known. You walk into a room feeling his presence. You walk away from him having learned something you hadn't known before. You walk away from him excited to take on new challenges yourself. You walk away from him realizing that you've just interacted with one of the most exciting people you will ever meet," Strykowski wrote. "Effie loves what he does and it shows."