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Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
109D Oceanography
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000


Fields of interest: 
fluid mechanics, soft matter, climate science, geophysics, machine learning

I am a fluid mechanicist currently studying the physical processes governing the vulnerability of ice shelves in a warming climate. My general approach is to develop reduced-order models for nature's complexity and discover robust patterns in real-world data. I obtained my PhD degree in fluid mechanics under the supervision of Howard Stone from Princeton University in 2018 with a thesis entitled “Fluid-Structure Interactions for Energy and the Environment.” I use idealized mathematical models, laboratory experiments, and simulations to explore a range of problems involving the interplay between fluid flows, fractures, deformable structures, and multiphase interfacial flows, with applications ranging from nature to technology. In 2018 I joined Lamont to study the mechanics of collapsing ice shelves. I enjoy exploring new approaches to problems and the surprises lying at the intersections of disciplines. I am now combining physics-based models and deep learning to understand fracture patterns in continent-wide satellite imagery and predict changes of fracture stability in response to atmospheric warming.  


Selected Publications:

  • Peer-reviewed articles
  1. C. Y. Lai, J. Kingslake, M. Wearing, P.-H. Cameron Chen, P. Gentine, H. Li, J. Spergel, J. M. van Wessem,
    “Vulnerability of Antarctica’s ice shelves to meltwater-driven fracture," Nature, accepted (2020)
  2. C. Y. Lai, J. Eggers, and L. Deike, “Bubble bursting: universal cavity and jet profiles," Phys. Rev. Lett., 121, 144501 (2018). doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.144501
  3. C. Y. Lai, B. Rallabandi, A. Perazzo, Z. Zheng, S. Smiddy, and H. A. Stone “Foam-driven fracture," Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 201808068 (2018). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1808068115
  4. H. S. Rabbani, D. Or, Y. Liu, C. Y. Lai, N. Lu, S. S. Datta, H. A. Stone, and N. Shokri, “Suppressing viscous fingering in structured porous media,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 201800729 (2018). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1800729115
  5. C. Y. Lai, Z. Zheng, E. Dressaire, G. Ramon, H. E. Huppert, H. A. Stone, “Elastic relaxation of fluid-driven cracks and the resulting backflow," Phys. Rev. Lett., 117, 268001 (2016). doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.117.268001
  • Energy policy
  1. G. Davies*, R. Edwards*, C. Y. Lai*, B. Perry*, and K. Spokas*, “Institutional Emissions and Energy Planning: Understanding the interactions between carbon accounting, institutional goal setting, and energy procurement," published by the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University (2019). *Equally contributed (report available here)
List of degrees from highest to lowest:
Ph.D Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Princeton University
B.S. Physics
National Taiwan University
Honors & Awards: 
2018 Lamont Doherty Postdoctoral Fellowship
2017 Maeder Graduate Fellowship in Energy and the Environment
2016 Mary and Randall Hack ’69 Graduate Award