Prize Recipient

Michelle DiBenedetto

Michelle H. DiBenedetto
Stanford University


"For creative and insightful use of theory, simulation, and experiment to reveal the dynamics of non-spherical inertial particles in wave-dominated flows, with application to the behavior of microplastic pollution in the ocean."


Michelle DiBenedetto received her B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Cornell University in 2014. She then began her doctoral work at Stanford University, where she was awarded the Stanford Graduate Fellowship and Gerald J. Lieberman Fellowship to support her research. She received her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2019 under the advisement of Professors Nicholas Ouellette and Jeffrey Koseff. Motivated by the problem of microplastics in the ocean, her dissertation work focused on the transport and behavior of non-spherical particles in waves. Michelle was awarded a postdoctoral scholarship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where she is currently a postdoc in the Physical Oceanography and Biology departments studying the behavior of zooplankton in turbulence. She uses laboratory experiments, as well as numerical and analytical tools to study how the properties of small particles in unsteady flows control their dynamics. She will be starting as an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at University of Washington in the winter of 2021. She has been a member of the American Physical Society since 2014 and a member of the American Geophysical Union since 2017.