Stephen Wiggins has been Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Bristol since 2001. Prior to that, he was Professor of Applied Mechanics at Caltech from 1994. He completed his PhD in Cornell University in 1985 under the supervision of Professor Philip Holmes, with a thesis entitled “Slowly Varying Oscillators”.
His research is characterized by the identification of areas of science or engineering where new mathematical and/or computational advances are required in order to move a particular area forward. This has often resulted in the development of a new research effort in both mathematics and the particular area of application. He was one of first applied mathematicians to develop the area of chaotic advection, which began in the 1980s and still remains a very active area of research. His results on the development of the invariant manifold approach to the description of transport in fluids resulted in the technique known today as lobe dynamics. The mathematical framework for this perspective, as well as extensions to higher dimensions and more general time dependence, is developed in his book “Chaotic Transport in Dynamical Systems”, Springer-Verlag (1992). Based on his work, in the early 90s, Prof. Wiggins was invited by the Office of Naval Research to explore ways of applying dynamical systems techniques to Lagrangian transport in oceanic flows. The needs of this particular area of applications led to the development of a new area of research in dynamical systems theory-finite-time dynamical systems (often defined as data sets). Further applications of the dynamical systems approach to transport and mixing resulted in the books “Mathematical Foundations of Mixing: The Linked Twist Map as a Paradigm in Applications: Micro to Macro, Fluids to Solids” (co-authored with R. Sturman and J. M. Ottino) Cambridge University Press (2006) and Lagrangian Transport in Geophysical Jets and Waves: The Dynamical Systems Approach (co-authored with R. M. Samelson) Springer-Verlag (2006), which describe significant breakthroughs in both the mathematics as well as applications.