Parks Faculty

Jean Potvin, Ph.D.,<br/>Professor

Jean Potvin, Ph.D.,



Ph. D. in Physics
University of Colorado-Boulder

M. Sc. in Physics
Universite Laval, Quebec City, Canada

B. Sc. in Physics
Universite Laval, Quebec City, Canada

Professional Society Memberships

  • FAA Senior Parachute Rigger (since 1998)
  • USPA Parachute Jumpmaster and Instructor (S/L) 1994 - 2001
  • Test and sport parachutist with over 2600 jumps
  • Co-founder, with Mr. Gary Peek , of the Parks College Parachute Research Group (
  • Course Director, H. G. Heinrich Parachute Systems Short Course , since 2001
  • Member, AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technical Committee, since 1995; Chair (2013 - 2015)
  • Member, American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), since 1995
  • Member, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), since 2010.

Honors and Awards

  • Associate Fellow, American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, January 2009

Teaching Experience at Saint Louis University

  • Parachute Systems & Design (graduate-level)
  • Bio-mechanics for zoology
  • Introductory College Physics I and II (100-level)- with or without calculus
  • Modern Physics
  • Introduction to Astronomy
  • Stellar Structure and Evolution
  • Instruments for Astrophysics and Cosmology
  • Optics (i.e. laser physics and wave optics)
  • Calculus I
  • Introduction to Weather (while at Parks - Cahokia)
  • Physical Processes in the Atmosphere (while at Parks - Cahokia)

Research Interests

Dr. Potvin’s research interests include:

  • Basic physics: Nature of the force of drag during decelerating and accelerating motions.
  • Fluid mechanics: Interaction between fluids and limp structures such as fabric materials.
  • Physical zoology: hydrodynamics and physics of whale lunge feeding
  • Physical zoology: CFD modeling of the hydrodynamics toothed and baleen whales (non-feeding motion) 
  • Aerodynamics: Inflation and flight of parachutes.
  • Engineering: Design and testing new parachutes for cargo airdrop, government jumpers and sport skydivers.
  • Test parachuting - Check out the movie at the bottom of this page

Below is a list of Jean Potvin’s selected publications. For more information on each publication, please visit the Parks College Publication Database.

Printed Archival Peer-Reviewed Journals
  • Shadwick, R.E., Goldbogen, J.A., Potvin, J., Pyenson, N.D., and Vogl, W. “Novel muscle and connective tissue design enables hyper-extensibility and controls engulfment volume in lunge-feeding whales”. Journal of Experimental Biology (2013) Vol. 216, pp. 2691- 2701; doi: 10.1242/jeb.081752.
  • McQuilling, M., and Potvin, J.  “Effect of the Transient Nature of Flow on Annular Parachute Drag Prediction,” Journal of Aircraft, 49(2), 566-575, March-April 2012; doi: 10.2514/1.C031591
  • McQuilling, M., Potvin, J., and Riley, J. Simulating the Flows About Cargo Containers Used During Parachute Airdrop Operations. Journal of Aircraft, 48(4), pp. 1405-1411. July/ August 2011. DOI: 10.2514/1.C031299
Online Peer-Reviewed Journals
  • Potvin, J., Goldbogen, J.A., and Shadwick, R.E. “Metabolic Expenditures of Lunge Feeding Rorquals Across Scale: Implications for the Evolution of Filter Feeding and the Limits to Maximum Body Size”. PLoS ONE (2012) 7(9): e44854. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044854.  Online only and open access: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044854.
 Peer-Reviewed Conference Papers
  • Potvin, J., Kavanaugh, J., and McQuilling, M.  “A Second Look at Geometric Porosity as Revealed by Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD),” AIAA-2013-1320, presented at the 22nd AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technology Conference, Daytona Beach, FL, March 25-28, 2013.
  • Freed, N., McQuilling, M., and Potvin, J.  “Investigation of Outer Ring Aerodynamics of an Annular Parachute,” AIAA-2013-1280, presented at the 22nd AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technology Conference, Daytona Beach, FL, March 25-28, 2013.
  • McQuilling, M., and Potvin, J.  “Forebody Wake Effects on the Aerodynamics of an Annular Parachute,” AIAA-2012-3332, presented at the 30th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference, New Orleans, LA, June 25-28, 2012.