John Dabiri is a biophysicist and professor of aeronautics and bioengineering, currently at the Civil & Environment Engineering department at Stanford University. 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, aPresidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and being named as one of Popular ScienceBrilliant 10″ scientists in 2008.
Bloomberg Businessweek magazine listed him among its 2012 Technology Innovators.
He has some interest in motivating kids considering STEM fields. As recounted in his NPR interview:
“Having two parents there who encouraged me and in some cases forced me to study and to really take academics seriously, was very important at an early stage. And then going through school, the role of my teachers was always so important. I remember my fourth grade teacher … [she] made me believe that I was smart and so I took that and sort of owned that and tried to live up to the expectations that she had placed on me, even as a fourth grader. And , as excited as they are about becoming a firefighter or the next rap star.”