February 3, 2019
The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. John Oluseun Dabiri.
John Oluseun Dabiri (Yoruba: John Olúseun Dábírí ) (born 1980) is a Nigerian-American biophysicist, professor of aeronautics and bioengineering, currently at the Civil & Environmental Engineering department at Stanford University. Dabiri's parents are Nigerian immigrants, who settled in Toledo, Ohio, in 1975. Dabiri's father was a mechanical engineer who taught math at a community college. His mother, a computer scientist, raised three children and started a software development company. It was watching his father, who would occasionally do engineering work on the side, that encouraged Dabiri's love of engineering.
Educated at a small Baptist high school, where he graduated first in his class in 1997, Dabiri was accepted by Princeton. He was primarily interested in rockets and jets, and spent two summers doing research that included work on helicopter design. The summer after his junior year, he accepted a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) in Aeronautics at Caltech, rejecting an internship offer from Ford at the urging of a professor. The summer project on the vortices created by a swimming jellyfish enticed him to the growing field of biomechanics.
Dabiri returned to Caltech for graduate school after graduating Princeton with a BSE summa cum laude. He was a finalist for both the Rhodes Scholarship and the Marshall Scholarship. He has been awarded NSF research grants eight times in five different fields.
He was formerly dean at the California Institute of Technology. He is best known for his research of the hydrodynamics of jellyfish propulsion and the design of a vertical-axis wind farm adapted from schooling fish. He is the director of the Biological Propulsion Laboratory, which examines fluid transport with applications in aquatic locomotion, fluid dynamic energy conversion, and cardiac flows, as well as applying theoretical methods in fluid dynamics and concepts of optimal vortex formation.
In 2010, Dabiri was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for his theoretical engineering work. He established the Caltech Field Laboratory for Optimized Wind Energy (FLOWE) in 2011, a wind farm which investigates the energy exchange in an array of vertical-axis wind turbines. His honors include a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and being named as one of Popular Science magazine's "Brilliant 10" scientists in 2008. Bloomberg Businessweek magazine listed him among its 2012 Technology Innovators.