Lauren Jacob wins Provost’s Undergraduate Research Award (PURA)

December 18, 2018

Lauren Jacob, a mechanical engineering junior, has been awarded the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Award (PURA) for her proposal titled “Wind-Tunnel Testing and Analysis of Flow-Induced Flutter in Permeable Membranes.” The project will investigate the dynamics of flutter in permeable membranes that mimic the behavior of parachute material.

The PURA is open to undergraduates from any division working with a mentor in any JHU division, center, or institute. Undergraduates can perform independent research, create a design, foster their entrepreneurship, or focus on scholarly and creative projects over the academic year with the help of a $3000 fellowship.

With the PURA award, Jacob will build upon her previous research on the flutter of flexible membranes, conducted under the guidance of Professor Rajat Mittal.

During the spring and summer of 2018, Jacob designed and fabricated a low speed wind tunnel and analyzed the behavior of solid silicone membranes of different thicknesses. Jacob and her team published the results of those studies in the paper “Flow-Induced Flutter of Hanging Banners: Experiments and Validated Computational Models.”

Going forward, Jacob will focus her work on how permeability impacts banner movement. She will test silicone membranes with holes of varying density and size in the low speed wind tunnel she helped build, later testing fabrics of different permeability. High speed cameras will capture the flutter of each banner at different wind speeds.

“Ultimately, these experiments will characterize flutter behavior with varying permeability and shed light on the relationship between permeability and aeroelastic flutter, or the unstable oscillation of a structure due to airflow,” said Jacob. “Aeroelastic flutter is of particular interest in parachute design due its complex behavior and potentially serious consequences such as structural failure. One goal of my project is to gain a better understanding of parachute dynamics, which could help improve parachute design.”

Jacob and her fellow PURA recipients will present their projects at DREAMS 2019, an annual event held in late spring that showcases undergraduate research at Johns Hopkins.


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