Michael Burke’s research focuses on combining physics and data across multiple scales in complex reacting systems, where multiple reactions occur simultaneously. With regard to physics, the main goal is to understand how reactions take place in mixtures, particularly involving energized molecules that collide with many inert and reactive partners – a fundamental physical chemistry topic relevant to the chemistry of combustion and planetary atmospheres. With regard to data, the main goal is to make predictions with uncertainties informed by data from the molecular level to macroscopic level – both answering fundamental scientific questions and informing engineering design decisions in the presence of risk. Burke and his group apply these techniques to combustion and fuel oxidation with the goal of improving engine efficiencies, to pollutant formation with the goal of designing cleaner combustion devices, and to chemical weapons neutralization with the goal of eradicating chemical weapons.
Burke is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University. Given the highly interdisciplinary nature of his work, he also holds affiliate appointments in Chemical Engineering and the Data Science Institute. Prior to joining Columbia in 2014, he received his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 2011 at Princeton University, where he studied the flame properties and chemical kinetics of high-pressure hydrogen combustion. Afterwards, he joined the Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division at Argonne to create modeling strategies that combine physical chemistry and mechanical engineering expertise.
In recognition of his work, Burke was awarded the Wallace Memorial Honorific Fellowship at Princeton University; the Director’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at Argonne National Laboratory; and the Doctoral New Investigator award from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, and the Research Excellence Award from the Combustion Institute while at Columbia University. His publications have been featured in the “News and Views” section of Nature Chemistry, selected as the Feature Article in Combustion and Flame, and chosen for the Distinguished Paper Award at the Thirty-first International Symposium on Combustion.