Professor Is Recognized for Making Lasting Contribution to Computational Mechanics

Posted: December 7, 1999 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Emily Yaghmour

“I was elated!” says Rainald Lohner of Computational Sciences and Informatics, when he learned he had received the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers’ 1999 Computational Mechanics Achievement Award. The award recognizes young scientists who have already made a lasting contribution to the field. Lohner received the award in Matsuyama, Shikoku, at the society’s annual computational mechanics conference, where he also delivered the keynote presentation.

The field of computational mechanics involves studying the performance of objects like planes or boats and how physical characteristics, such as size and shape, can affect their performance. One of the ways to predict the performance of an object is to solve mathematical equations that describe the forces acting on it. Scientists today use supercomputers to run programs called field solvers, which solve these equations.

Lohner, who heads George Mason’s Computational Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, has spent part of his 15-year career developing ever more sophisticated field solvers. Many of the methods he first pioneered are being used worldwide.

For the past year, Lohner and his colleagues have been using some of these methods to develop a tool to help heart and brain surgeons diagnose vascular diseases and to determine how best to treat each case. Because the circulatory system varies considerably from person to person (in the strength of the blood vessel tissues, the sizes of the vessels, the locations of blockages, etc.), doctors can never be certain how surgery will turn out until they perform it.

Working with Fairfax Hospital, the National Institutes of Health, and hospitals in London, Lohner and his colleagues have developed computer models that simulate blood flow in arteries. These models enable heart surgeons to predict how a particular surgical action will affect blood flow in a patient. Lohner believes that within two years the tool will be ready for use in hospitals.

For more information about this project, visit Lohner’s website.

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