Current Team

Our lab provides rich, multi-varied scientific training. Students conduct laboratory and numerical experiments and develop theory about planetary processes. We seek students with a strong background in applied, engineering or mathematical physics as well as other creative, innovative thinkers. Graduates of the lab have published high-impact papers and gone on to work in the fields of planetary geophysics, applied mathematics, and governmental technology.

Jonathan Aurnou

Jonathan Aurnou is a professor of geophysics and planetary physics in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. His main research interests are in planetary magnetic field generation, planetary jet and vortex dynamics, rotating turbulence and magnetoturbulence, and convective transport phenomena. Aurnou’s group combines laboratory, numerical and theoretical methods to generate advanced models of flow processes occurring with planetary cores and atmospheres. In addition to scientific research, Aurnou’s group has built up a unique library of scientific outreach videos ( and has launched the DIYnamics Project ( to foster do-it-yourself experimental demonstrations of geophysical flows.

Prof Aurnou on the EPSS website

Graduate Students

Jewel Abbate

For her Ph.D. work, Jewel is investigating how rapidly rotating, planetary core convection differs when driven by compositional forcing (using high Prandtl number fluids) versus thermal forcing (using low Prandtl number liquid gallium). To characterize her experimental convective flows, she will use of an array of diagnostic methods, including thermometry, laser and acoustic Doppler velocimetry, and particle image velocimetry.

Cy David


Yufan Xu

For his Ph.D. work, Yufan is conducting experimental studies of magnetoconvection (MC) in liquid gallium using the RoMag device. He is currently investigating a novel magneto-precessional mode and the heat transfer properties in the MC system. Yufan will continue his studies on MC with the added effects of rotation, which is essential to our understanding of dynamo generation in planets and stars.

Undergraduate Students

Miranda Chang

Nika Eskandari

Isaac Forest

Katy Rucker

Rachel Tripoli

Hearth Yager