Lawrence N. Virgin, Professor  

Lawrence N. Virgin

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 focussed on the loss of stability of dynamical systems. The recent discovery of chaos has stimulated much research in this area across the breadth of science and engineering.

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.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  120 Engineering Bldg
Office Phone:  (919) 660-5342
Email Address:   send me a message
Web Page:


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.
  • Specialties:

    Structural Engineering
    Chaos, Dynamics
    Nonlinear Dynamics
    Computational Mechanics
    Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

    Frocht Award, Society for Experimental Mechanics
    International Gas Turbine Institute's (IGTI) J. P. Davis Award, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    Teaching (Spring 2019):

      Physics 150, MW 08:30 AM-09:45 AM
    Representative Publications   (More Publications)

    1. Davis, RB; Virgin, LN, Non-linear behavior in a discretely forced oscillator, International Journal of Non Linear Mechanics, vol. 42 no. 5 (June, 2007), pp. 744-753, Elsevier BV [doi]  [abs].
    2. Stanciulescu, I; Virgin, LN; Laursen, TA, Finite element analysis of a slender isogrid structure, Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, vol. 44 (2007), pp. 529-537 .
    3. Chen, H; Virgin, LN, Finite element analysis of post-buckling dynamics in plates-Part I: An asymptotic approach, International Journal of Solids and Structures, vol. 43 no. 13 (June, 2006), pp. 3983-4007, Elsevier BV [036], [doi]  [abs].
    4. Santillan, S; Virgin, LN; Plaut, RH, Equilibria and vibration of a heavy pinched loop, Journal of Sound and Vibration, vol. 288 no. 1-2 (November, 2005), pp. 81-90, Elsevier BV [016], [doi]  [abs].
    5. Trickley, ST; Virgin, LN; Dowell, EH, The stability of limit-cycle oscillations in a nonlinear aeroelastic system, Proceedings. Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences, vol. 458 no. 2025 (2002), pp. 2203-2226, The Royal Society [0965], [doi]  [abs].
    6. Todd, MD; Nichols, JM; Pecora, LM; Virgin, LN, Vibration-based damage assessment utilizing state space geometry changes: local attractor variance ratio, Smart Materials and Structures, vol. 10 no. 5 (October, 2001), pp. 1000-1008, IOP Publishing [316], [doi]  [abs].

    Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    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: