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

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 239 Hudson Eng Bldg, Box 90300, Durham, NC 27708-0300
  • Office Phone: +1 919 660 5331
  • Email Address:


  • Ph.D. Duke University, 1993

Research Interests

Hydroelastic modeling of deformable structures, transport in thermal and chemical systems, experimental and computational fluid dynamics, nonlinear and complex systems, heat and mass transport in biological systems, stability of fluid motions, machine learning, data mining, econophysics, reduced order modeling, modeling of decompression sickness, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, mechanical design, manufacturing engineering, wind power.

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Fellows. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 2012

Courses Taught

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

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.
  • Dunford, Richard G., Petar D. Denoble, Robert Forbes, Carl F. Pieper, Laurens E. Howle, and Richard D. Vann. “A study of decompression sickness using recorded depth-time profiles.” Undersea Hyperb Med 47, no. 1 (2020): 75–91.
  • 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).