Associate Professor of Mathematics
Joined Connecticut College: 2006
B.S., Lafayette College; Sc.M., Ph.D., Brown University
Ordinary differential equations
Professor Balasuriya’s research interests lie at the interface between mathematics and its applications. An appreciation for the intrinsic beauty and clarity of mathematics, combined with a desire to better understand the physical world around us, has been the theme behind his research and educational training (with degrees in applied mathematics, physics and engineering).
His work is probably best described as “applied analysis”, in which he develops and utilizes mathematical analysis tools towards physical applications. Some projects he has worked on include assessing the leakage of heat from enormous Gulf Stream rings, investigating chaotic motion in our oceans, describing the motion of floats in the Gulf Stream, suggesting strategies for improving mixing in micro-fluidic devices, quantifying chaotic mixing in general, studying flame front propagation, and mathematically modeling the cell cycle (the process in which a cell splits into two to create new cells).
His interest is primarily in obtaining a mathematical (as opposed to purely numerical) description of physical phenomena, with the goal of obtaining a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms. To this end, he has also focused on developing and improving theoretical tools; he has recently extended the “Melnikov method” from dynamical systems theory which has subsequently proven to be invaluable in quantifying the chaotic flux of fluid particles.
Selected publications of Balasuriya include “Optimal perturbation for enhanced chaotic transport” (Physica D, 2005); “An approach for maximizing chaotic mixing in micro-fluidic devices” (Physics of Fluids, 2005 – also selected in the compilation Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology 12, Issue 12); “Direct chaotic flux quantification in perturbed planar flows: general time-periodicity” (SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems, 2005); “An analytical study of general hyperdiffusivity and barotropic eddies” (Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics, 2004); “Melnikov theory for finite-time vector fields (Nonlinearity, 2000); “Vanishing viscosity in the barotropic beta-plane” (Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications, 1997).
Balasuriya was recently honored with the J.H. Michell Medal, awarded by the Australia and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ANZIAM) Society to promising young researchers. The citation is also described in an article in the Australian Mathematical Society Gazette.
Balasuriya joins Connecticut College with prior teaching experience across three continents: the University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka), Oberlin College (Ohio) and the University of Sydney (Australia).
He has taught Calculus I and II, Differential Equations, Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences, and Nonlinear Dynamics.
Visit the mathematics department website to find Sanjeeva's personal homepage.