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Robert Breidenthal

Faculty Photo

Aeronautics & Astronautics


Professor Breidenthal completed his undergraduate work at Wichita State University in Aeronautical Engineering in 1973. He obtained his doctorate degree in Aeronautics at the California Institute of Technology in 1979. He was then a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Caltech until coming to the University of Washington in 1980. Professor Breidenthal has received support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation, NASA and Asea Brown Boveri, Ltd. of Switzerland. He has done consulting work for The Boeing Company, Rocketdyne, ARCO Alaska, U.S. Gypsum, Peerless Manufacturing, Asea Brown Boveri, Learjet, Vornado, Mallen Research and Centriflo.

The single most important unsolved problem in both engineering and geophysics is turbulent entrainment. It controls the vertical fluxes of mass, momentum, and energy throughout the atmosphere and the oceans as well as at their interface. Its role in engineering is equally critical. In our laboratory, we have pursued a systematic study of the fundamentals of turbulent entrainment. The long-term goal is insight into the effects of acceleration, buoyancy-reversal, compressibility, confinement, persistence, rotation, and stratification on entrainment. It appears that a general synthesis may be possible, where these effects will be found to have a common underlying basis. The working hypothesis is that insight into one effect will help in understanding another.


  • PhD, Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology
  • MS, California Institute of Technology
  • BSA.E., Wichita State University