Researcher biography

Dr Wheatley is the Chair of Teaching and Learning for the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering. He is a member of the Centre for Hyperosonics and was named Australia's Research Field Leader in Aerospace and Aviation Engineering (The Australian, Sept 28, 2018). He was a recipient of a 2017 Australian Award for University Teaching – Award for Teaching Excellence .

Dr Wheatley's research interests are in the fields of supersonic plasma flows, hypersonics and computational fluid dynamics.

Dr Wheatley's research in supersonic plasma flows focuses on the suppression of instabilities that are detrimental to inertial confinement fusion, a process that promises carbon free energy production. In hypersonics, he focuses on extending the capability scramjets to the point where they can power launch-vehicle stages. This technology could meet the need for safer, more economical space access, which has the potential to revolutionise the space industry. Computational fluid dynamics is his primary method of investigation in these areas.

Dr Wheatley obtained his PhD in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in 2005. He also earned an MEngSc (Mechanical) and a BE (Mechanical and Space) from the University of Queensland (UQ). After completing his PhD in the US, Dr Wheatley spent two years as post-doctoral fellow at ETH Zurich. He was then a Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Adelaide before taking up his position at UQ in 2009.

Dr Wheatley has expertise in the areas of:

  • Simulation of hypersonic flows (DNS, LES and RANS)
  • Using high fidelity numerical simulations, validated by experiments, to provide new details and understanding of scramjet flow physics
  • Mixing and combustion enhancement in scramjets through fuel/flow structure interactions and novel injector design
  • Analysis and simulation of plasma instabilities
  • Numerical methods for magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) and multi-fluid, ion-electron plasmas
  • Rarefied gas dynamics
  • Bluff body wake dynamics
  • Aeroacoustics, particularly passive noise control for bluff bodies

Areas of research