Margaret Byron joins faculty in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

September 7, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Margaret Byron has joined the department as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of California-Berkeley and joins Penn State from a post-doctoral position at the University of California-Irvine. Byron has expertise in particle-laden turbulent flows and is interested in ocean-borne particulates such as marine snow and microplastics.  Her work focuses on how the size, shape, and other physical properties of particles affect their relationship to the surrounding turbulent flow.  These factors have important impacts on particle transport, settling, aggregation, and preferential concentration, as well as turbulence modulation. She has also done extensive work in aquatic biomechanics, focusing on how animals navigate through complex underwater environments and the scale-dependence of their interactions with turbulence.

We asked Margaret a few questions about herself and her plans to make an impact in mechanical and nuclear engineering at Penn State.

What excites you about joining the MNE Department?

I’m excited about the diversity and breadth of the research going on in the department.  The faculty here are looking at so many cool problems-- I’m really looking forward to learning more about each of the research programs and potentially collaborating with other faculty members.

What can students expect from you in the classroom?

I really enjoy teaching; my favorite thing to do is find real-world phenomena that show off the beauty and utility of engineering (especially fluid mechanics).  I try to make classes fun and interesting, but also rigorous and unquestionably useful for students’ roads ahead, whether that ends up being an industry job, graduate school, or some other career path.

What have you found in Happy Valley that you really like or are looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to exploring the local hiking trails and other outdoor activities.  I’m especially excited for autumn, since I’ve spent the last several years in California and I’ve missed the fall colors on the east coast.

What unique strength do you hope to bring to the department?

My work straddles lots of traditional disciplinary boundaries (fluid mechanics and biology; environmental and mechanical engineering; lab work and field work). I’m hoping to use that perspective to build cross-disciplinary collaborations both inside and outside the department.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I play a lot of music, and I like to be outside (hiking, camping, and rowing are some favorite activities). I also like traveling to new places and trying out new recipes and cuisines.

Where are you from originally?

I’m actually from right here in Happy Valley!  I grew up in Boalsburg and graduated from State High in 2006 (go Little Lions!).

What professional goals do you hope to achieve here at Penn State?

I hope to facilitate collaborations within engineering as well as with other disciplines like biology and environmental science. I’m also interested in working with the Women in Engineering Program and other programs out of the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion, and using all the resources available at PSU to make sure my work is relevant and impactful to the broader community.  My goal is to build a research program that works at the boundaries: not only the borders between disciplines, but also at the frontiers of human knowledge.


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Margaret Byron

Margaret Byron



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519