Dr Giovanni Fantuzzi, Imperial College Research Fellow, Aeronautics 

“I am developing a completely new type of computer-assisted technique that combines tools from different areas of mathematics with the latest advances in numerical optimisation”

I joined Imperial as an undergraduate back in 2010 to study Aeronautical Engineering. I found myself so much at home that after graduating I decided to stay, first as a PhD student and now as an Imperial College Research Fellow. 

My work explores new ways in which optimisation – the science of doing things as well as possible – can help engineers design technology that performs at its best, and is robust to changes in its operating environment. This is key to making industries such as energy and transport sustainable. 

To meet this ambitious goal, one must be able to answer questions like, “How much energy can a wind turbine generate?” or “In which conditions does it operate safely?”. High-fidelity computer simulations and machine learning methods can only provide partial answers because, for engineering systems of such complexity, the number of scenarios that one can simulate accurately and use to train artificial intelligence is typically very limited.  

For this reason, I am developing a completely new type of computer-assisted technique that combines tools from different areas of mathematics (for example, analysis, dynamical systems theory, and control theory) with the latest advances in numerical optimisation. Using this interdisciplinary approach, my collaborators and I have recently made new fundamental discoveries about fluids that move because of heating – like boiling water in a pot, the atmosphere of Earth, and even plasma inside stars. 

The theoretical and computational nature of my research makes it very easy to work from anywhere in the world and, excitingly, with collaborators from across the globe including Canada, the USA, Germany and Chile. This has been very convenient during lockdown, but it can have its downsides since my thoughts and my laptop follow me almost everywhere! 

When I am not working, I can usually be found cooking and eating in the kitchen, or catching up with the latest sports news. I also enjoy bike touring and have cycled across the Alps twice. It was a wonderful experience both times and I recommend it to anyone who likes the mountains and being outdoors.

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