Laurens E. Howle

Professor in the Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Professor Howle's research interests span the disciplines of thermal science, fluid dynamics, and nonlinear dynamics. His present research projects - visualization of convective fluid patterns, stabilization of the no-motion state in free convection and bifurcation in imperfect or distributed parameter systems - are split evenly between experimental and computational methods.

A key problem facing researchers studying convection in fluid-saturated porous media is the lack of a general, non-invasive method for pattern visualization and wave number measurement. Professor Howle designed innovative porous media which allow optical techniques to be used for the first time as a pattern visualization tool in the study of porous media convection.

Computational spectral methods are efficient methods of simulation of small aspect ratio convection systems. For large problems, these methods can become too expensive to be practical. Professor Howle developed a reduced Galerkin method which decreases the execution time by orders of magnitude for large problems. This extends the range of problems for which certain spectral methods may be used. He is currently studying porous free convection in systems with distributed properties and binary convection using the reduced Galerkin method.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor in the Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Associate Professor in the Division of Marine Science and Conservation
  • Associate Professor of Radiology
  • Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 239 Hudson Eng Bldg, Box 90300, Durham, NC 27708-0300
  • Office Phone: (919) 660-5331
  • Email Address:


  • Ph.D. Duke University, 1993

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Fellows. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 2012

Courses Taught

  • ENRGYEGR 490: Special Topics in Energy Engineering
  • ME 321L: Mechanical Engineering Analysis for Design
  • ME 490: Special Topics in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 555: Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 639: Computational Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Wu, C. Y., D. P. Nowacek, A. E. Nousek-McGregor, R. McGregor, and L. E. Howle. “Computational fluid dynamics of flow regime and hydrodynamic forces generated by a gliding North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis).” Marine Mammal Science 37, no. 3 (July 1, 2021): 826–42.
  • Schwartz, Fides R., Douglas S. Lewis, Amy E. King, F Gregory Murphy, Laurens E. Howle, Charles Y. Kim, and Rendon C. Nelson. “Hemodialysis catheter integrity during mechanical power injection of iodinated contrast medium for computed tomography angiography.” Abdom Radiol (Ny) 46, no. 6 (June 2021): 2961–67.
  • King, Amy E., Nicholas R. Andriano, and Laurens E. Howle. “Trinomial decompression sickness model using full, marginal, and non-event outcomes.” Computers in Biology and Medicine 118 (March 2020): 103640.
  • King, A. E., and L. E. Howle. “Tetranomial decompression sickness model using serious, mild, marginal, and non-event outcomes.” Informatics in Medicine Unlocked 20 (January 1, 2020).
  • Di Muro, G., F. G. Murphy, R. D. Vann, and L. E. Howle. “Are interconnected compartmental models more effective at predicting decompression sickness risk?” Informatics in Medicine Unlocked 20 (January 1, 2020).