Nick Ouellette is broadly interested the behavior of complex systems far from equilibrium. In particular, a running theme in his research is dynamical self-organization. He seeks both to understand the physical principles that govern the spontaneous emergence of low-dimensional structure in high-dimensional systems and to harness this self-organization for engineering applications. His current research includes studies of turbulent flows in two and three dimensions, in both simple and complex fluids; the transport of inertial, anisotropic, and active particles in turbulence; the erosion of granular beds by fluid flows and subsequent sediment transport; quantitative measurements of collective behavior in insect swarms and bird flocks; and emergent, self-organized structure and dynamics in cities.
Before coming to Stanford in 2015, Ouellette spent seven years on the faculty in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Yale University. He has won awards for his teaching at both Yale and Stanford. Before beginning his faculty career, he held postdoctoral positions at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization and in the Physics Department at Haverford College.