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About me

Sally Warner on R/V Thompson September 2006I grew up in South Orange, New Jersey and went to Columbia High School. My favorite subjects were definitey math and physics. I was involved in numerous nerdy activities such as playing the trombone in the marching band and being one of the few girls on the math and science teams.

My undergraduate degree is in Mechanical Engineering from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Originally, I decided to study mechanical engineering because I wanted to build roller coasters. But while doing my degree, I learned about fluid dynamics and was quickly hooked.

The fluid dynamics problem that first really piqued my interest is the problem of the golf ball. In order to reduce the drag on a golf ball in flight, dimples were added to the ball. The dimples increase the frictional drag, but actually decrease the form drag (also known as pressure drag), thereby reducing the net drag on the ball. This just seemed so counter-intuitive that I was curious to learn more.

I earned my PhD from the Oceanography Department at the University of Washington (UW) in 2012. I studied problems similar to those that interested me in undergrad, but instead of golf balls, I looked at form drag associated with tidal flow over under-water topography such as ridges and headlands. We used novel observational techniques and powerful computer models to measure and understand the form drag at Three Tree Point, a headland in Puget Sound, WA.

Sally Warner on R/V Wecoma June 2010Currently, I am a post-doc in the Ocean Mixing group at Oregon State University. I study mixing and vertical heat transfer at the equator. We want to understand how mixing is correlated to tropical instability waves and climate phenomena like El Nino.

I am also very excited about teaching. During the 2010–2011 school year, I had the wonderful opportunity to teach undergrads at UW Bothell through a Program for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy (PIP) fellowship. In the fall and spring I am designing and teaching a class called A Citizen's Guide to the Science of Puget Sound, which is all about the ecology and oceanography of the Puget Sound, our local estuary. In the winter, I am teaching, How Things Work: Motion and Mechanics, which is a hands-on introduction to physics for non-science majors. Both of these classes fit into my passions of public environmental education about local places and fun experiments with physics. In addition to teaching my own classes, I have been a teaching assistant for four classes at the UW: a graduate level Fluid Dynamics class for Oceanographers and Atmospheric Scientists (Fall 2006), two years of a brand new Introduction to Oceanography Lab class for which I got to write a significant portion of the curriculum (Spring 2008, 2009), and an Estuarine and Coastal Dynamics class for graduate students (Summers 2009 and 2012). All of these classes had a significant hands-on portion, which, in my opinion, is the key way to make science fun and interesting. I have also been a counselor/teaching assistant at the New Jersery Governor's School in the Sciences at Drew University for six summers.

From December 2012 through July 2012, I traveled through China, Southeast Asia, India, and southern Africa as a Bonderman Fellow. While traveling I explored the relationship between people and their local bodies of water.