University of Texas at Austin
Thomas J.R. Hughes



phone (512) 232-7775

office POB 5.430A

Thomas J.R. Hughes

Core Faculty GSC Faculty

Peter O'Donnell, Jr. Chair in Computational and Applied Mathematics

Lead Computational Mechanics Group

Professor Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics

Research Interests

Computational Mechanics


Thomas J.R. Hughes holds B.E. and M.E. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Pratt Institute and an M.S. in Mathematics and Ph.D. in Engineering Science from the University of California at Berkeley.  He taught at Berkeley, Caltech, and Stanford before joining the University of Texas at Austin.  At Stanford he served as Chairman of the Division of Applied Mechanics, Chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Chairman of the Division of Mechanics and Computation, and occupied the Crary Chair of Engineering.  

Dr. Hughes is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Section for Mathematics and the Physical Sciences), the Istituto Lombardo Accademia di Scienze e Lettere (Mathematics Section), and the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. Dr. Hughes is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics (USACM), the International Association for Computational Mechanics (IACM), the American Academy of Mechanics (AAM), the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), and the Engineering Mechanics Institute of ASCE.   Dr. Hughes is a Founder and past President of USACM and IACM, past Chairman of the Applied Mechanics Division of ASME, past Chairman of the US National Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, and co-editor of the international journal Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering.  He is an Honorary Member of the Japanese Association for Computational Mechanics (JACM).  

Dr. Hughes is one of the most widely cited authors in Engineering Science.  He has been elected to Distinguished Member, ASCE’s highest honor, and has received ASME’s highest honor, the ASME Medal.  He has also been awarded the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize and von Karman Medal from ASCE, the Timoshenko, Worcester Reed Warner, and Melville Medals from ASME, the von Neumann Medal from USACM, the Gauss-Newton Medal from IACM, the Computational Mechanics Award from the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME), the Grand Prize from the Japan Society of Computational Engineering and Science (JSCES), the Computational Mechanics Award from JACM, the Humboldt Research Award for Senior Scientists from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Wilhem Exner Medal from the Austrian Association für SME (Öesterreichischer Gewerbeverein, OGV), the International Scientific Career Award from the Argentinian Association for Computational Mechanics (AMCA), the SIAM/ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Prize in Computational Science and Engineering, the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) Distinguished Scientist Award, the O.C. Zienkiewicz Medal from the Polish Association for Computational Mechanics (PACM), the A.C. Eringen Medal from the Society for Engineering Science (SES), and the Ralph E. Kleinman Prize from SIAM.

Upon graduation from UC Berkeley, Dr. Hughes received the Bernard Freidman Memorial Prize in Applied Mathematics, the only engineer to have ever done so.  At Stanford University, he received the Dean’s Award for Academic Accomplishment.  At the University of Texas at Austin he has received the Joe J. King Professional Engineering Achievement Award, the Billy and Claude R. Hocott Distinguished Centennial Engineering Research Award, and the University Co-op Career Research Excellence Award.  He has also received the Alumni Achievement Award from Pratt Institute. Dr. Hughes has received honorary doctorates from the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), the University of Pavia (Italy), the University of Padua (Italy), the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim), Northwestern University (Evanston), and the University of A Coruña (Spain). He held the Cattedra Galileiana (Galileo Galilei Chair), Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy, in 1999, and the Eshbach Professorship, Northwestern University, in 2000. 

The Special Achievement Award for Young Investigators in Applied Mechanics is an award given annually by the Applied Mechanics Division of ASME.  In 2008 this award was renamed the Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award. 

In 2012 the Computational Fluid Mechanics Award of the United States Association for Computational Mechanics was renamed the Thomas J.R. Hughes Medal.

Dr. Hughes' research interests and the mission of the Computational Mechanics Group (CMG) is to pursue research and development in computational mechanics and to promote Ph.D. and post-doctoral education in the discipline. Activities span fundamental mathematical investigations, the development of new and powerful computational methods and algorithms, and engineering and scientific applications. 

A current focus of the CMG is isogeometric analysis, an integrated vision of computational geometry and analysis aimed at unifying the disparate methods and data structures of Computer Aided Geometric Design (CAGD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA), and breaking the current bottleneck in the translation of CAGD representations to FEA models. Isogeometric analysis provides a unique geometric foundation to product development, from design through analysis. In the few years since its inception, isogeometric analysis has become one of the most active research areas of computational mechanics, attracting investigators from mathematics, computer science and engineering.

Other current CMG research topics are computational fluid mechanics, fluid-structure interaction, computational medicine applications in cardiovascular medicine, phase field models with applications to the growth of prostrate tumors and to simulation of brittle and ductile fracture, and the development of new discretization technologies for computational structural mechanics and fluid dynamics, including T-splines, divergence- and curl-conforming B-splines, and boundary element methods using hierarchically refined spline bases. 

Close collaborations exist with the Oden Institute Center for Computational Geosciences & Optimization,  Center for Predictive Engineering & Computational Sciences, Computational Visualization Center, Center for Cardiovascular Simulation, and several U.S. and international universities.