OTC News Archive

Professor Thomas J.R. Hughes elected to United Kingdom’s Royal Society

Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
May 24, 2011

Cockrell School of Engineering Professor Thomas J. R. Hughes has been elected as a Foreign Member of The Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s national academy of science and the oldest known scientific society in the world.

The academy was founded in 1660 and currently has about 1,500 Fellows and Foreign Members—including more than 70 Nobel Laureates. Election into the academy is reserved for the most eminent scientists in the world, and previous Fellows include Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein.

Hughes, a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES), was among 44 Fellows and eight Foreign Members whose induction was announced May 20.

“It is a huge honor to join such a prestigious and respected scientific academy,” Hughes said. “I share the academy’s mission to expand the frontiers of knowledge with science, engineering, medicine and mathematics, and I’m deeply moved to be included in such an outstanding group of scientists.”

Hughes is widely regarded for his fundamental contributions to the development of the Finite Element Method, a numerical technique that uses mathematical modeling to analyze and predict everything from how stress is distributed throughout a structure to understanding and projecting climate change.

Hughes has developed computational methods for understanding solid, structural and fluid mechanics. He recently applied this expertise to develop customized models of blood flow for patients using their individual imaging records such as CT scans and MRIs.

The research allows medical professionals to consider various heart disease interventions based on Hughes’ models’ predicted outcomes of the interventions. The innovative techniques for blood flow analysis promise to transform cardiovascular surgery.

“The computational methodologies pioneered by Tom Hughes have revolutionized engineering science and are widely used in industry,” said Cockrell School of Engineering Dean Gregory L. Fenves. “He is one of the most-cited authors in scientific computing and the growth of the field is in large part thanks to Tom’s innovations.”

ICES Director Dr. Tinsley Oden said Hughes’ induction is a well-deserved recognition for “one of the great luminaries” of computational science.

“Tom is a statesman, an eloquent spokesman for his field and his institution, a unique scholar, and someone who is admired and respected by all who know him,” Oden said.

Hughes joined the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics in 2002. He has been a faculty member at the University of California-Berkeley, the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University, where he was chairman of the Division of Applied Mechanics and chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

He has received numerous academic distinctions. Hughes is a Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the International Association for Computational Mechanics.