Applied Math

Duke Applied Mathematics

Thomas P. Witelski, Professor of Mathematics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Thomas P. Witelski

My primary area of expertise is the solution of nonlinear ordinary and partial differential equations for models of physical systems. Using asymptotics along with a mixture of other applied mathematical techniques in analysis and scientific computing I study a broad range of applications in engineering and applied science. Focuses of my work include problems in viscous fluid flow, dynamical systems, and industrial applications. Approaches for mathematical modelling to formulate reduced systems of mathematical equations corresponding to the physical problems is another significant component of my work.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  295 Physics Bldg, Box 90320, Durham, NC 27708-0320
Office Phone:  (919) 660-2841
Email Address: send me a message
Web Pages:

Teaching (Spring 2019):

    Physics 259, TuTh 01:25 PM-02:40 PM
    Physics 259, TuTh 10:05 AM-11:20 AM
Office Hours:

Mondays 10:00am-noon and Tuesdays noon-2:30pm

Ph.D.California Institute of Technology1995
B.S.E.Cooper Union1991

Applied Math
Research Interests: Fluid Dynamics, Perturbation Methods, Asymptotic Analysis, Nonlinear Ordinary and Partial differential equations


Asymptotic Analysis • Differential equations, Nonlinear • Differential equations, Parabolic • Fluid Dynamics • Fluid dynamics • Nonlinear Ordinary and Partial differential equations • Perturbation Methods • Surface Tension

Current Ph.D. Students   (Former Students)

  • Weifan Liu  
Postdocs Mentored

Undergraduate Research Supervised

  • Veronica Ciocanel (May, 2010 - May, 2012)
    Honorable mention for 2012 Faculty Scholar, Graduation with Distinction in Mathematics: Modeling and numerical simulation of the nonlinear dynamics of the forced planar string pendulum 
  • Jeremy Semko (May, 2009 - May, 2010)
    Thesis: Statistical Analysis of Simulations of Coarsening Droplets Coating a Hydrophobic Surface 
  • Lingren Zhang (July, 2006 - September, 2006)
    Thesis: The Motion of Sets of Vortices
    Undergraduate summer research 
  • Qinzheng Tian (July, 2005 - September, 2005)
    Thesis: Simulation of Newtonian fluid fluid between rotating cylinders
    Undergraduate summer research 
Recent Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Chiou, J-G; Ramirez, SA; Elston, TC; Witelski, TP; Schaeffer, DG; Lew, DJ, Principles that govern competition or co-existence in Rho-GTPase driven polarization., Plos Computational Biology, vol. 14 no. 4 (April, 2018), pp. e1006095 [doi]  [abs]
  2. Ji, H; Witelski, TP, Instability and dynamics of volatile thin films, Physical Review Fluids, vol. 3 no. 2 (February, Submitted, 2018), American Physical Society (APS) [doi]  [abs]
  3. Gao, Y; Ji, H; Liu, J-G; Witelski, TP, Global existence of solutions to a tear film model with locally elevated evaporation rates, Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, vol. 350 (July, 2017), pp. 13-25, Elsevier BV [doi]
  4. Ji, H; Witelski, TP, Finite-time thin film rupture driven by modified evaporative loss, Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, vol. 342 (March, 2017), pp. 1-15, Elsevier BV [doi]
  5. Gao, Y; Ji, H; Liu, J-G; P. Witelski, T, A vicinal surface model for epitaxial growth with logarithmic free energy, Discrete & Continuous Dynamical Systems B, vol. 22 no. 11 (2017), pp. 1-21, American Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) [doi]

Duke University * Arts & Sciences * Mathematics * January 19, 2019

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