Skip to main content


Michelle DiBenedetto

Faculty Photo

Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Civil & Environmental Engineering


  • Ph.D. Civil & Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 2019
  • M.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 2015
  • B.S. Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 2014

Previous appointments

  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2020

Research Statement

Michelle DiBenedetto’s research lies at the intersection of environmental fluid mechanics and particle-laden flows. Her work is motivated by understanding microplastics pollution in the ocean. Specifically, she studies how to interpret observations, predict transport, and model degradation of plastic debris in the environment. In addition, she studies problems in biological fluid mechanics such as the behavior of plankton in turbulence with applications to bio-inspired navigation. In her work, she uses laboratory experiments, often in a wave tank or flume, as well as numerical and analytical tools to measure and predict how the properties of small particles control their dynamics in unsteady flows.

Select publications

  1. DiBenedetto, M. H., Helfrich, K., Pires, A., Anderson, E., & Mullineaux, L. (2022). Responding to the signal and the noise: behavior of planktonic gastropod larvae in turbulence. Journal of Experimental Biology. 225 (3): jeb243209
  2. DiBenedetto, M. H., Clark, L. K., & Pujara, N. (2022). Enhanced settling and dispersion of inertial particles in surface waves. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 936, A38.
  3. DiBenedetto, M. H. (2020). Non-breaking wave effects on buoyant particle distributions. Frontiers in Marine Science. 7, 148.
  4. DiBenedetto, M. H., Qin, Z. & Suckale, J. (2020). Crystal aggregates record the pre-eruptive flow field in the volcanic conduit at Kilauea, Hawaii. Science Advances. 6: 49, eabd4850.
  5. DiBenedetto, M. H., Koseff, J. R., & Ouellette, N. T. (2019). Orientation dynamics of non-spherical particles under surface gravity waves. Physical Review Fluids. 4, 034301.
  6. DiBenedetto, M. H., & Ouellette, N. T. (2018). Preferential orientation of spheroidal particles in wavy flow. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 856, 850-869.
  7. DiBenedetto, M. H., Ouellette, N. T., & Koseff, J. R. (2018). Transport of anisotropic particles under waves. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 837, 320-340.

Honors & awards

  • NSF CAREER 2023
  • Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics, APS 2020
  • Lorenz G. Straub Award for the most meritorious Ph.D. dissertation in fluid mechanics, hydraulic engineering, ecohydraulics, or related fields., St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota, 2019
  • Postdoctoral Scholarship Award, WHOI 2019-2020
  • Gerald J. Lieberman Fellowship 2017
  • Stanford Graduate Fellowship 2014-2017