Seeing Math in Nature: Fluid Dynamics and River Meanders

The Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill presents "Seeing Math in Nature," a series of workshops during Spring 2021. In this series of workshops you will learn to see, interpret, and recreate the patterns around us. Math is the universal language. The translators will be agaves, trees, rivers, and jaguars, aided by guest scientists and artists. Each session takes a different approach to understanding the functioning of nature, collectively allowing us to see in new ways.


Instructors: Hydrologist and river restoration specialist Anthony Luketich and Roseann Hanson, artist 

Picture a classic aerial view of a river, and you will see in your mind a series of loops and bends . . . these are called meanders. As water flows and curves, material such as sand and gravel build on the inside of the bend. The outside of the loop is left clean and unprotected, where erosion accelerates, further increasing the meandering in a powerful positive feedback loop. The result is a beautiful natural pattern that can be predicted mathematically in many forms: rivers, snake locomotion, the growth of brain coral. Hydrologist and wetland restoration specialist Anthony Luketich of the Watershed Management Group will talk about these processes, and then artist Roseann Hanson will lead a session on field sketching the Tucson stretch of the Santa Cruz River, which is in the process of being reborn after a century of stasis.

Length: 2 hours

Time: 10 am – noon (Arizona/Phoenix time)

Cost: $45 each or $170 for all four of the series


10 a.m. March 20, 2021

Event Contacts

Roseann Hanson