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Contact Information


Visit Oliver Kerr

E222, Drysdale Building

Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



Dr Kerr was an undergraduate at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge where he was awarded a degree in Mathematics. He spent a further year on Part III of the course, getting a certificate in Advanced Studies in Mathematics (later converted into an MMath). He then went to Bristol University, studying under Dr Judy Holyer, before continuing there with a couple of post-doctoral positions and a couple of temporary lectureships. He then secured a lectureship here at City University in the Department of Mathematics.

His main research are lies in double-diffusive convection which occurs when there are two components in the fluid that affect the density, such as heat and salt. In particular he is interested in the onset of instabilities in intrinsically time-dependent background states such as the heating of a salinity gradient from an isolate vertical wall.


  1. MMath (Retrospective), University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2011
  2. PhD Mathematics, University of Bristol, United Kingdom, 1989
  3. Cert of Advanced Study in Mathematics, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1983
  4. BA Mathematics, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1982


  1. Research Assistant/Associate, Lecturer, University of Bristol, 1988 – 1993


  1. Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, May 2009 – present

Memberships of professional organisations

  1. London Mathematical Sosciety, Jul 2009 – present
  2. American Geophysical Union, Jan 2006 – present


Double-Diffusive Convection

I am interested in various topics in theoretical fluid dynamics. My central interest has been in topics relating to double-diffusive convection (convection driven by density differences caused by variations in both temperature and salinity) such as determining when instabilities will be observed, and how they behave once they develop.

Instabilities in Evolving Systems

Some of the double-diffusive problems have some little understood aspects that I am actively looking into such as how instabilities form in evolving systems. This contrasts with the traditional stability analysis which often looks at instabilities that grow from a time-independent background state (or one that can be approximated as steady).
A typical problem would be the heating of a large body of water from a boundary. Initially the fluid is stable, and only subsequently goes unstable.

Research Students

Kit Yee Tang

Thesis title: Double Diffusive Convection in a Vertical Slot

Juan Faiz Talabany

Thesis title: The Onset of Double-diffusive Instability In Evolving Sidewall Heating

Elizabeth Lawal

Thesis title: Time dependent double-diffusive convective instabilities from the lateral heating of a stratified fluid layer

Zoë Gumm

Thesis title: Thermal Instabilities in an Evolving Boundary Layer at a Single Vertical Wall


Internet publication

  1. Kerr, O. (2016). Critical Rayleigh number of an error function temperature profile with a quasi-static assumption. arXiv.

Journal articles (27)

  1. Kerr, O.S. (2018). Double-diffusive instabilities at a horizontal boundary after the sudden onset of heating. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. doi:10.1017/jfm.2018.821.
  2. Kerr, O.S. and Gumm, Z. (2017). Thermal instability in a time-dependent base state due to sudden heating. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 825, pp. 1002–1034. doi:10.1017/jfm.2017.408.
  3. Kerr, O.S. (2014). Comment on 'Nonlinear eigenvalue problems'. Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical, 47(36). doi:10.1088/1751-8113/47/36/368001.
  4. Kerr, O.S. (2007). Periodic intrusions in a stratified fluid. JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS, 580, pp. 467–480. doi:10.1017/S0022112007005617.
  5. Kerr, O.S. (2006). An exact solution in sedimentation under an inclined wall. PHYSICS OF FLUIDS, 18(12). doi:10.1063/1.2404983.
  6. Kerr, O.S. and Zebib, A. (2006). The effect of vibrations on sideways double-diffusive instabilities: strong stratification asymptotics. JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS, 559, pp. 299–306. doi:10.1017/S0022112006000619.
  7. Kerr, O.S. and Zebib, A. (2006). Low-gravity sideways double-diffusive instabilities: Small wave number asymptotics. PHYSICS OF FLUIDS, 18(6). doi:10.1063/1.2213998.
  8. Ruddick, B. and Kerr, O. (2003). Oceanic thermohaline intrusions: theory. PROGRESS IN OCEANOGRAPHY, 56(3-4), pp. 483–497. doi:10.1016/S0079-6611(03)00029-6.
  9. Chan, C.L., Chen, W.-.Y. and Chen, C.F. (2002). Secondary motion in convection layers generated by lateral heating of a solute gradient (with an Appendix by O. S. Kerr). J. Fluid Mech., 455, pp. 1–19.
  10. Kerr, O.S. (2001). Oscillatory double-diffusive instabilities in a vertical slot. JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS, 426, pp. 347–354. doi:10.1017/S0022112000002445.
  11. Kerr, O.S. (2000). The criteria for the onset of double-diffusive instabilities at a vertical boundary. PHYSICS OF FLUIDS, 12(12), pp. 3289–3292. doi:10.1063/1.1321257.
  12. Kerr, O.S. (2000). Three-dimensional instabilities of steady double-diffusive interleaving. JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS, 418, pp. 297–312. doi:10.1017/S002211200000135X.
  13. Kerr, O.S. and Tang, K.Y. (1999). Double-diffusive instabilities in a vertical slot. JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS, 392, pp. 213–232. doi:10.1017/S0022112099005315.
  14. Kerr, O.S. and Dold, J.W. (1996). Flame propagation around stretched periodic vortices investigated using ray-tracing. COMBUSTION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 118(1-3), pp. 101–125. doi:10.1080/00102209608951974.
  15. Kerr, O.S. and Dold, J.W. (1996). Investigation of Flame Propagation Through Steady Periodic Vortices in a Stagnation Point Flow by the use of Ray-Tracing. Combust. Sci. Tech., 118, pp. 101–125.
  17. Dold, J.W., Kerr, O.S. and Nikolova, I.P. (1995). Flame propagation through periodic vortices. Combustion Flame, 100, pp. 359–359.
  18. Kerr, O.S. and Dold, J.W. (1994). Periodic Steady Vortices in a Stagnation Point Flow. J. Fluid Mech., 276, pp. 307–325. doi:10.1017/S0022112094002570.
  19. Kerr, O.S. (1992). Two-dimensional instabilities of steady double-diffusive interleaving. J. Fluid Mech., 242, pp. 99–116.
  20. Kerr, O.S. (1992). On the merging of double-diffusive convection cells at a vertical boundary. Phys. Fluids A, 4, pp. 2923–2926.
  21. Kerr, O.S. (1991). Double-diffusive instabilities at a sloping boundary. J. Fluid Mech., 225, pp. 333–354.
  22. Kerr, O.S. (1990). Heating a salinity gradient from a vertical sidewall: nonlinear theory. J. Fluid Mech., 217, pp. 529–546.
  23. Kerr, O.S. (1989). Heating a salinity gradient from a vertical sidewall: linear theory. J. Fluid Mech., 207, pp. 323–352.
  24. Kerr, O.S. and Wheeler, A.A. (1989). The effect of a weak vertical magnetic field on the boundary layer past a vertical heated wall. J. Fluid Mech., 199, pp. 217–236.
  25. Kerr, O.S. and Wheeler, A.A. (1989). The effect of a magnetic field on the flux of a contaminant dissolving into the crucible wall boundary layer in Czochralski crystal growth. J. Crys. Growth, 96, pp. 915–932.
  26. Kerr, O.S. and Holyer, J.Y. (1986). The effect of rotation on double-diffusive interleaving. J. Fluid Mech., 162, pp. 23–33.
  27. Kerr, O. Double-diffusive instabilities at a vertical sidewall after the sudden onset of heating. Journal of Fluid Mechanics.


Undergraduate Teaching

In 2013-14 Dr Kerr is teaching:

MA1617 Computational Mathematics
MA2608 Numerical Mathematics

Postgraduate Teaching

Dr Kerr is teaching a module on Modelling for the London Taught Course Centre (LTCC) for PhD students in a number of London universities.