Laura Villafane Roca's directory photo.

Laura Villafane Roca

Assistant Professor

Primary Affiliation

Computational Imaging


Status Affiliate Faculty

Home Department of Aerospace Engineering




  • Biography

    Laura Villafañe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research explores a wide range of fluid dynamic problems, with particular interest on turbulent and particle-laden flows, and on the development of non-intrusive diagnostics and data analysis tools. She has held numerous Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Engineer positions in the department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University prior to joining UIUC.


    • B.Sc., aeronautical and aerospace engineering, Polytechnic University of Madrid, 2007

    • M.Sc., aeronautical and aerospace engineering, Polytechnic University of Madrid, 2007

    • Ph.D., aerospace and mechanical engineering, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, 2014

  • Honors
    • 2023: AIAA IL Outstanding Section Award

    • 2023: AIAA Section-Student Branch Partnership Award 

    • 2022: AIAA IL Outstanding Section Award

    • 2021: NASA Early Stage Innovation Award 

    • 2019: NASA Early Stage Innovation Award

    • 2013: Amelia Earhart Fellowship, Zonta International Foundation

  • Research

    Research areas:

    • Complex three-dimensional flows

    • Particle-laden flows

    • Magnetic resonance imaging for flow velocimetry and dispersion measurements

    Research interests:

    • Laser-based diagnostics

    • Heat transfer measurements

    Laura’s research aims at advancing our ability to understand, predict and control turbulent and multiphase flows across a wide range of regimes. Her group uses non-intrusive measurement techniques and custom-made experimental setups to study fundamental flow phenomena in problems that range from the interaction of supersonic jets with granular media for space exploration, to complex three-dimensional turbulent flows and the role of turbulence on the dispersion and inhomogeneous distribution of particles, key in environmental flows and in many engineering applications.

    At the Beckman Institute, Laura collaborates with Prof. Brad Sutton and researchers at the Biomedical Imaging Group on tailoring MRI sequences and data reconstruction methodologies to quantify three-dimensional distributions of velocity, scalar concentration, and temperature in fluid flows. MRI techniques have a large potential in fluid dynamics research and specifically in internal and complex 3D flows, where conventional measurement techniques are impracticable or provide limited information. Biological and respiratory flows but also urban flows, ventilation dynamics and flows in internal cooling systems, are few examples where MRI surpass the measurement capabilities of conventional optical and probe-based techniques.

    Laura and her research group also work with researchers at the Beckman Institute Imaging Technology Group. The 3D X-ray Computed Tomography equipment at the Microscopy Suite is instrumental for the in-situ micro-scale characterization of parachute textiles under mechanical load, an effort that is impacting constitutive models for improved parachute decelerators design and failure predictions. The micro-CT capabilities at Beckman are also essential for precise size distribution characterization of solid particles that are used in controlled particle-laden flow experiments.

  • 2023

    • Benson M., Banko A., Elkins C., An D.G., Song S, Bruschewski M., Grundmann S., Bandopadhyay T., Sutton B., Villafane L., Han K., Hwang W., Eaton J.K., “MRV Challenge 2: Phase locked turbulent measurements in a roughness array”, Exp. In Fluids, 64(2), p.28. (2023)
    • Mattei M., Phillippe C., Panerai F., Villafane L., “Design, Manufacturing, and Testing of Flat and Conical Sub-Scale Parachute Models”, AIAA SciTech Forum, Gaylord National Harbor, Maryland, Jan. 23-27, 2023
    • Phillippe C., Mattei M., Villafane L., Panerai F., “In-Situ Micro-scale Characterization of Parachute Textiles with Micro-Tomography and Machine Learning”, AIAA SciTech Forum, Gaylord National Harbor, Maryland, Jan. 23-27, 2023.
    • Rasmont N, Al-Rashdan H., Elliott G., Rovey J., Villafane L. “Millimeter-wave interferometry for opaque particle-laden flows”, IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, Early Access (2023)
    • Rasmont N, Al-Rashdan H., Elliott G., Rovey J., Villafane L., “Spatially Distributed Measurements of Ejecta Concentrations in Plume-Surface Interactions using Millimeter Wave Interferometry”, AIAA SciTech Forum, Gaylord National Harbor, Maryland, Jan. 23-27, 2023


    • Rasmont N, Al-Rashdan H., Elliott G., Rovey J., Villafane L. “Millimeter Wave Interferometry for Ejecta Concentration Measurements in Plume-Surface Interactions ", AIAA 2022-2421, AIAA SciTech Forum, San Diego, CA. Jan. 3-7, 2022.
    • Villafane L., Al-Rashdan H., Rasmont N., Elliott G., Rovey J., "Underexpanded jet impingement on solid and granular surfaces in subatmospheric conditions", Turbulence and Interactions TI, Isola d’Elba, Italy, 2022.


    • Al-Rashdan H., Rasmont N., Rovey J., Elliott G., Villafañe L. “Static Wall Pressure Measurements of Supersonic Under expanded Jet Impingement”, AIAA 2021-2859. AIAA Aviation Forum, virtual event, Aug. 2-6, 2021.


    • Bandopadhyay T., Villafane L., "Dynamics of inertial particle clusters in turbulent duct flows”, submitted to International Journal of Multiphase Flow.
    • Banko A., Villafane L., Kim J.H., Eaton K.J, "Temperature statistics in a radiatively heated particle-laden turbulent square duct flow", International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow, 84, 108618, (2020)
    • Esmaily M.M., Villafañe L., Banko A., Iaccarino G., Eaton J. K., Mani A. “A benchmark for particle-laden turbulent duct flow: a joint computational and experimental study”. International. Journal of Multiphase Flow, 132, 103410, (2020)
    • Hoffman D., Villafañe L., Elkins C. J., and Eaton K. J., "Experimental study of flow inside a centrifugal fan using magnetic resonance velocimetry." ASME Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power, 142(4), 041019 (2020)


    • Banko A., Villafañe L., Kim J.H., Eaton J. K., “Temperature statistics in a radiatively heated particle-laden turbulent square duct flow”, 11th International Symposium on Turbulence and Shear Flow Phenomena, TSFP11, 2019 Southampton, UK.
    • Banko A.B., Villafañe L., Kim J.H., Esmaily M., Eaton J.K., “Stochastic modeling of direct radiation transmission in particle-laden turbulent flow”. Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, 226, 1-18, (2019)
    • Di Renzo M., Johnson P.L., Bassenne M., Villafañe L, Urzay J., “Mitigation of turbophoresis in particle-laden turbulent channel flows by using incident electric fields”, Physical Review Fluids, 4(12), 124303, (2019)
    • Grosshans, H., Villafañe, L., Banko, A., Papalexandris, M.V., “Case study on the influence of electrostatic charges on particle concentration in turbulent duct flows”. Powder Technology, 357, 46-53 (2019)
    • Hoffman D.W., Villafañe L., Elkin, C.J., Eaton J.K., “Experimental Study of Flow Inside a Centrifugal Fan Using Magnetic Resonance Velocimetry”, ASME Turbo Expo, 2019 Phoenix, AR, USA.


    • Grosshans H., Villafañe L., Banko A., Papalexandris M.V., “Influence of electrostatic charges on the particle concentration in wall-bounded turbulent flows”, 8th World Congress on Particle Technology, 2018 Orlando, FL, USA.
    • Villafañe L., Paniagua G., “Aerodynamic impact of finned heat exchangers on transonic flows”. Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science, 97, 223-236 (2018).