Faculty and Staff

Aaron Thomas

Aaron Thomas

Associate Professor, Director of Native American Research Laboratory

Office: Chemistry, 201
Email: aaron.thomas@mso.umt.edu

Current Position

Director of Indigenous Research and STEM Education

Associate Professor - Chemistry


EGEN 101 Introduction to Engineering

Personal Summary

My research interests include the analysis of pulsatile flow for the mechanical separation of gases and biological species.  Separations of gas mixtures on the macro scale using pulsatile flow is analyzed using mathematical models and experimental verification.  Flows in various geometrical configurations, such as wavy-walled tubes are examined to determine their effectiveness in separation processes.  On the microscale, different sized ssDNA are separated using a pulsatile electroosmotic flow to integrate into future Lab-on-a-Chip systems.  The relative time and length scales for the separations are important to give good resolutions with high throughput.

As the Director of Indigenous Research and STEM Education, the education of Native American and Alaska Native students from Kindergarten through graduate school is one of the goals of the program.


Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 2001, University of Florida.

B.S., Chemical Engineering, 1996, Stanford University.

Selected Publications

John Whetten, Aaron Thomas, The study of oscillating flow separation using multiple wavy-walled tubes, Sep. Sci. Tech., in press.

Aaron M. Thomas, Aashika Jain, The effect of pulsatile flows on the transport across membranes: An analytical and experimental study, Sep. Sci. Tech., 42.9, p. 1931 – 1944, 2007.

A. Thomas, G. Thich, R. Narayanan, Low Reynolds number flow in a channel with oscillating wavy-walls: An analytical study.  Chem. Eng. Sci., 61, p. 6047, 2006.

                  A. Thomas, R. Narayanan, A comparison between the enhanced mass transfer in boundary and pressure driven pulsatile flow. Int. J. Heat and Mass Transfer, 45, p. 4057, 2002.

                  A. Thomas and R. Narayanan, The use of pulsatile flow to separate species, Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 974, p. 42, 2002.

A. Thomas, R. Narayanan, Periodic flow and its effects on the mass transfer of a system and separation of species, Physics of Fluids, 13, p. 859, 2001.

Specialized Research Interests

Analysis of pulsatile flow for the mechanical separation of gases and biological species.

AIG Dept/College

College of Humanities and Sciences, Chemistry & Biochemistry


Dr. Aaron Thomas is currently the Director of Indigenous Research and STEM Education (IRSE) at the University of Montana, in addition to his role as Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Prior to arriving at the University of Montana in January 2013, Aaron served the University of Idaho as Assistant and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Director of the Idaho Space Grant Consortium and Idaho NASA EPSCoR Programs.

A member of the Navajo Nation, Aaron earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University (1996) and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida (2001). Dr. Thomas' research topics include Microfluidics and novel separation processes for gases and biological materials. He is a recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER and PbioECASE Award given to young faculty in science and engineering.

Dr. Thomas is committed to increasing the number of Native American and Alaska Native students with advanced degrees in STEM fields. Accordingly, he has constructed a comprehensive service plan that (in the earliest years) promotes exciting STEM education activities in Montana's reservation middle schools and (later) supports their undergraduate and graduate STEM studies at the University of Montana.

Teaching Experience

2001 - 2007 Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho

2007 - 2012 Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho