Highly Cited Researchers Spotlight Series: Dr Ioan Pop

Ioan Pop isn’t just a Highly Cited Researcher; he has been on the cutting edge of science for more than half a century. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on nanofluids, but has also worked on heat transfer, chemically driven convection, Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids and porous media. He’s not a bench scientist, though. He’s a mathematician.

Pop, a professor of applied mathematics at Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, works with a team to develop the mathematical framework for scientific research and technological innovation. He’s worked in Norway, Germany and Romania, teaming up with researchers from all over the world – including Iran, Russia and Malaysia.

“The newest topic is nanofluids, fluid mechanics and heat transfer,” says Pop. “I’m also working with young researchers to introduce them to different topics in nanofluids.”

The mathematics of science

Pop’s papers are cited in both industry and academia. The field of applied mathematics is closely interwoven with virtually all scientific fields, because it provides the formulas and calculations necessary to fully understand scientific and engineering hypotheses. Pop both publishes purely theoretical papers and contributes to research with an experimental component.

“Applied mathematics is a very strong topic,” says Pop. “Many industrial problems can be solved, such as those in aerospace associated with flight, for instance, along with areas like environment, engineering, chemistry, physics and so on. Many topics.”

Applied mathematics is a perennially relevant field, because not only is it applicable to a wide variety of subjects, it can also be used to create more and more detailed and intricate models. In his calculations of fluid dynamics, Pop has worked to model imperfections, non-uniform permeability of boundaries, and layering. These increasingly complicated formulas model real-life phenomena more and more closely.

The future of fluids is small

Pop specifically focuses on fluid dynamics, a field with many applications. In addition to topics actually involving various types of fluids, it can be used to better understand heat transfer, the qualities of various types of materials, and even biological mechanisms. It can be used to model geothermal formations and pollution dispersion in groundwater.

Pop has worked on each of those topics, and now he’s taking the lead in what he sees as one of the most important new fields of interest. Pop has published more than 80 papers on nanofluids in the past five years, and is scheduled to speak at three conferences on the topic in the next year.

Nanofluids are fluids containing nanometer-sized particles, which are typically made of metals, oxides, carbides and carbon nanotubes. They can be used to improve the thermal conductivity of liquids and sense low concentrations of substances like toxins. Pop says nanofluids are the future of fluid dynamics in applied mathematics, and strongly encourages young researchers to get involved in this field.

Pop says that, at the end of the day, becoming a Highly Cited Researcher depends on producing high-quality papers that other researchers find valuable. His field and his papers are valuable to a wide variety of other researchers, including mathematicians and researchers in academia and industry.

He also says it’s important to publish frequently, and in high-quality journals.

“You have to have many cited papers,” says Pop. “This is more and more difficult because there are lots of researchers from around the world, so it becomes very difficult to publish, but if the papers are very good, the journals take the papers.”

See the 2016 Highly Cited Researchers