John Cater

Dr John Cater (Department of Engineering Science) is the Engineering Lead for the Auckland Programme for Space System at the University of Auckland. He graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Auckland, and a PhD in Fluid Dynamics from Monash University, Australia. This was followed by post-doctoral positions at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and the University of Cambridge, UK working on reducing aircraft noise. John then joined Queen Mary University of London, UK as a lecturer in Aerospace Engineering before returning to New Zealand as a Senior Lecturer in Fluid Dynamics in 2008.


His research now encompasses a wide range of engineering problems, with a focus on the fluid mechanics and thermodynamics of biological systems and aerodynamics, as well as signal processing using high performance computing. Current research projects include the flow of digesta in sheep stomachs, surgical humidification and the control of wind turbines. In 2016, John initiated a joint project with Beijing Normal University, China, on environmental hydraulics, looking at numerical methods for predicting the spread of contaminants in waterways and coastal areas. Most recently John and Dr Nicholas Rattenbury (Physics) were awarded funding form the National Science Challenge, Science for Technological Innovation theme for developing miniaturised hardware for synthetic aperture radar, for the purposes of maritime monitoring of New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone.

Mechanical and structural properties of ovine rumen tissue have been determined using uniaxial tensile testing of tissue from four animals at five rumen locations and two orientations. Animal and orientation did not have a significant effect on the stress-strain response, but there was a significant difference between rumen locations. Histological studies showed two orthogonal muscle layers in all regions except the reticulum, which has a more isotropic structure. A quasi-linear viscoelastic model was fitted to the relaxation stage for each region. Model predictions of the ramp stage had RMS errors of 13–24% and were within the range of the experimental data.

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We investigate multiple wind turbines operating in a small turbine array using a coupled LES/aero-elastic method. Wake interaction effects are assessed for multiple wind-speeds, with performance of the wind farm quantified, including measurement of efficiency, controller utilisation and loading effects. Power losses are shown to peak at over 40% for the full-wake case, with increased power fluctuation and control actuator usage noted at downwind turbine locations. Spectral analysis of the wake indicates a broad peak meandering frequency. Dynamic yaw control has also been included in the simulations – a first for LES simulation of wind farms – with significant yaw actuation observed due to local wind direction changes despite a constant global wind direction.

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Surgical site infections remain a significant burden on healthcare systems and may benefit from new countermeasures.

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