Lawrie N. Virgin

Lawrence N. Virgin

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Professor Virgin's research is centered on studying the behavior of nonlinear dynamical systems. This work may be broadly divided into two components. First, investigation of the fundamental nature of nonlinear systems based on a mathematical description of their underlying equations of motion. Both analytical and numerical techniques are used with special attention focused on the loss of stability of dynamical systems.

The second area of interest is to apply recent results from nonlinear dynamical systems theory to problems of practical engineering importance. These include the nonlinear rolling motion of ships leading to capsize; buckling of axially-loaded structural components; aeroelastic flutter of aircraft panels at high supersonic speeds; vibration isolation based on nonlinear springs; energy harvesting; damage detection and structural health monitoring; and the dynamics of very flexible structures including solar sails and marine risers. Professor Virgin conducts mechanical experiments to complement these studies.

The flavor of much of this work is contained in the books:

Introduction to Experimental Nonlinear Dynamics, L.N. Virgin, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Vibration of Axially Loaded Structures, L.N. Virgin, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. University of London (UK), 1986
  • M.S. Cardiff University, 1982
  • B.S. University of Manchester (England), 1981

Research Interests

  • Experimental verification of low-order nonlinear dynamical behavior (including chaos) using mechanical models.
  • The interaction between dynamics and buckling including secondary bifurcation.
  • Time series analysis in the context of condition monitoring and damage detection.
  • Dynamic behavior of inflatable and lightwieght structures for space applications.
  • Nonlinear aeroelasticity of airfoils, wings and panels.
  • Parametric excitation of slender structural components including rotorblades and struts.
  • Rocking, sliding, bouncing and overturning of rigid blocks with applications in earthquake engineering and the nuclear industry.


Structural Engineering
Chaos, Dynamics
Nonlinear Dynamics
Computational Mechanics

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Frocht Award. Society for Experimental Mechanics. 2016
  • International Gas Turbine Institute's (IGTI) J. P. Davis Award. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 2012

Courses Taught

  • CEE 647: Buckling of Engineering Structures
  • COMPSCI 524: Nonlinear Dynamics
  • ME 392: Undergraduate Projects in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 394: Engineering Undergraduate Fellows Projects
  • ME 473: Aerospace Structures
  • ME 491: Special Projects in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 492: Special Projects in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 527: Buckling of Engineering Structures
  • ME 555: Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 742: Nonlinear Mechanical Vibration
  • ME 759: Special Readings in Mechanical Engineering
  • PHYSICS 513: Nonlinear Dynamics

Representative Publications

  • Virgin, LN; Guan, Y; Plaut, RH, On the geometric conditions for multiple stable equilibria in clamped arches, International Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics, vol 92 (2017), pp. 8-14 [10.1016/j.ijnonlinmec.2017.03.009] [abs].
  • Plaut, RH; Virgin, LN, Snap-through under unilateral displacement control with constant velocity, International Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics (2017) [10.1016/j.ijnonlinmec.2017.01.015] [abs].
  • Virgin, L, On the flexural stiffness of 3D printer thermoplastic, International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education, vol 45 no. 1 (2017), pp. 59-75 [10.1177/0306419016674140] [abs].
  • Plaut, RH; Virgin, LN, Equilibria and vibration of a buckled beam with attached masses or spring–mass systems, Journal of Sound and Vibration, vol 379 (2016), pp. 166-176 [10.1016/j.jsv.2016.05.043] [abs].
  • Knight, JD; Virgin, LN; Plaut, RH, Predicting Critical Speeds in Rotordynamics: A New Method, Journal of Physics, vol 744 (2016), pp. 012155-012155 [10.1088/1742-6596/744/1/012155] [abs].

Additional Information

Research photographs

Many of my research projects have an experimental component, some photos can be found in the following links showing:

Some of my latest research involves solar sails for deep space exploration (sponsored by NASA):

Numerical simulation has also played an important role in the development of dynamics: