Associate Professor Hua Xia

Doctor of Philosophy
ARC Future Fellow
College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Complex Physical Systems 029902
  • Fluid Physics 020303
  • Turbulent Flows 091508
  • Biological Physics 029901

Research interests

  • Biofilm mechanics and architecture
  • Living fluids: nonequilibrium turbulent flows, bacterial turbulence and active swimmers
  • Self-organization in chaotic and turbulent flows
  • Control of diffusion and transport of micro-particles at the fluid-gas interface

       Past research:

  • Spectral energy transfer in fluids and plasma
  • Thin layer fluid turbulence and spectral condensation
  • Rotating fluid experiments
  • Atmospheric wind measurements using LIDAR and SODAR


After graduating from Chongqing University in Electrical Engineering I worked on China’s biggest fusion research facility. Then I started my PhD project in plasma turbulence at the ANU which developed into a cross-disciplinary study of 2D turbulence. I received my PhD degree in 2006. In 2012 I was awarded the ARC DECRA and in 2014 I won the ARC Future Fellowship to further develop my research into transport of matter and energy in chaotic flows and living fluids.

My research interests broadly fall in the physics of complex systems, 2D turbulence, self-organization, and wave-flow interaction. Highlights of my research are related to (a) accumulation and conversion of the turbulent energy into mean flows, (b) conversion of energy of disordered surface waves into coherent flows; (c) engineering of dynamical metamaterials at the liquid–gas interface; (d) development of efficient methods of controlling and predicting turbulent diffusion on a liquid surface; and (e) studies of living fluids in bacterial turbulence.

Researcher's projects

Bacterial turbulence: self-organization 

Systems in thermodynamic equilibrium are known to obey detailed balance, in which transition rates between any two micro-states are pairwise balanced. This means that there can be no net flux of transitions anywhere in the phase space of system states. This principle was identified and used by Ludwig Boltzmann in his pioneering development of statistical mechanics, the microscopic basis for thermodynamics. In contrast, living systems operate far from equilibrium, and molecular-scale violations of detailed balance lie at the heart of their dynamics.  Turbulence is another example of system far from equilibrium, which has shown an amazing ability of self-organization. 

Energy extraction from chaotic flows

In this project, I am interested in (1) self organizaiton of chaotic flows into coherent vortices and (b) directed transport in non-equilibrium turbulent system. 

Liquid metamaterial generation for bacteria and active swimmer studies


Available student projects


Bacterial turbulence: diffusion and self-organizaiton

Dense bacterial flows have been shown to exhibit properitse of self-organizaiton. This project is aimed at determining the underlying mechanism of the bacterial self-organizaiton by study the bacteria dispersion using PIV and PTV techniques. 

Dr Hua XiaDr Nicolas FrancoisProfessor Michael ShatsDr Horst Punzmann

Effect of large coherent vortices on Lagrangian statistics in 2D turbulence

Laboratory experiments in turbulent flows and numberical analysis of the statistical properties of the flows

Dr Hua Xia

Spectral energy transfer in turbulence

Laboratory measurement of turbulent flows and numberical analysis of the statistical properties of the flows

Dr Hua Xia



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

Return to top

Updated:  06 May 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers