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Thomas Sykes

Postdoctoral Researcher
Oxford University
PhD project title
Internal Dynamics of Impacting and Coalescing Reactive Droplets


I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2016, with a BSc degree in Mathematics. During my undergraduate degree, I particularly enjoyed the three modules in fluid dynamics I studied, and applied mathematics in general. Throughout, I aimed to give myself a well-rounded education in mathematics by studying modules spanning all areas of the subject, including statistics and pure mathematics.

In the summer of 2015, I undertook a research project entitled 'Anonymisation of Healthcare Records' at the University of Leeds. During the project, I was based in an inter-disciplinary research centre, the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA), alongside a diverse range of researchers. This experience demonstrated the importance of the multidisciplinary approach to me, and made me keen to pursue postgraduate research. For my final year project, I studied Monte Carlo Methods, which are a set computational methods which use repeated random sampling to evaluate numerical results.

Research Interests

I am primarily interested in droplet dynamics, especially involving a solid surface (wetting). In my PhD project, I am investigating the internal dynamics of coalescing droplets, both numerically (using the C++ toolbox OpenFOAM) and experimentally (using high speed imaging). Such flows have numerous applications, from microfluids (e.g. lab-on-a-chip devices) to sprays, but I am especially interested in next-generation additive manufacturing techniques (e.g. reactive inkjet printing) where mixing between coalescing droplets is a primary concern.

I am also interested in complex fluids; in particular, colloidal suspensions. In my MSc team project (working with Procter & Gamble), I investigated the influence of centrufugal force on the sedimentation of colloidal suspensions and developed an improved model for these flows. The model results were succesfully validated against highly controlled experiments, with the work published in Physics of Fluids.

I have previously worked on statistical methods for linking anonymised data records, and Monte Carlo Methods in statistical physics.

Selected Oral Presentations

  • “Internal Dynamics of Coalescing Droplets on a Surface”. UK Fluids Network Drop Dynamics SIG Meeting 3, Wadham College, University of Oxford, UK (September 2018).
  • “Internal Flows during the Coalescence of a Free and a Sessile Droplet”. UK Fluids Conference 2018, University of Manchester, UK (September 2018).

Selected Poster Presentations

  • “Binary Coalescence of Initially Static Free Droplets”, UK Fluids Network Multiphase Flow and Transport Processes SIG Meeting 2, University College London, UK (December 2017).
  • "Physical Separation of Colloidal Systems", CDT Fluids Student Symposium, Imperial College London, UK (July 2017).

Research Visits

  • Stability Team, Procter and Gamble Brussels Innovation Center, Brussels, BE (15-18 May 2017).

Selected Conference/ Workshop Attendance

  • Barry Azzopardi Summer School (Multiphase SIG Meeting 3), University of Nottingham, UK (July 2018).
  • Workshop on Droplet Coalescence, Durham University, UK (October 2017).

Student Education

I am a postgraduate module assistant (tutor) in the School of Mathematics, University of Leeds. I have led the following sessions:


  • BSc Hons (Class 1) in Mathematics, University of Leeds

Professional memberships

  • AMIMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers)

My most recent selected publications

  • Antonopoulou E; Rohmann-Shaw CF; Sykes TC; Cayre OJ; Hunter TN; Jimack PK (2018) Numerical and experimental analysis of the sedimentation of spherical colloidal suspensions under centrifugal force. Physics of Fluids, 30 (3).

Why I chose the CDT in Fluid Dynamics

My main reason for choosing the CDT was the multidisciplinary environment it provides. I was also attracted by the cohort based nature of the CDT, with a community of fluid dynamics postgraduate researchers studying various strands of the subject. This allows me to better appreciate areas of the fluid dynamics not directly related to my own research are