University of Minnesota Sign with flowers

Department Mourns the Loss of Thomas S. Lundgren


Thomas S. Lundgren

Thomas S. Lundgren, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, died on October 9, 2021. Professor Lundgren had a long and illustrious career in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics from 1960 until his retirement in 2000.

Thomas S. Lundgren was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1931 and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana where his father managed an advertising agency. Professor Lundgren was one of the most important figures in fluid mechanics. He was widely regarded as one of the few world leaders in the theory of turbulence.  He made major contributions to our understanding of turbulence, magneto-hydrodynamics, free molecular flow, shock structure, rotating fluids, vortex dynamics, drop dynamics and solid-liquid flow. He was a master at understanding the underlying fluid mechanics, modeling the physical phenomena mathematically, and solving the resulting equations. His work was characterized by original thinking, mathematical rigor, and attention to detail.  He was best known for two seminal works: Distribution Functions in the Statistical Theory of Turbulence, Physics of Fluids (1967) and Strained Spiral Vortex Model for Turbulent Fine Structure, Physics of Fluids (1982). Professor Lundgren was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society for his contributions in 1994.  He received the Fluid Dynamics Prize – the highest award conferred by the Fluid Dynamics Division of the American Physical Society, in 2006. He also received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota in 2006. 

Professor Lundgren’s entire career was spent at the University of Minnesota. He received his B.S. in 1954 and M.S. in 1956 from the Aeronautical Engineering Department (now Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics) and a Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics in 1960.  After graduating, he joined the Aeronautical Engineering Department as an Assistant Professor.  The ranks of Associate Professor and Professor followed in 1963 and 1965. Professor Lundgren was highly regarded and a popular teacher of advanced courses in fluid dynamics, many of which he introduced into the curriculum. These courses were popular with students of fluid mechanics from many departments. Many of his students advanced to high prominence, and his influence was felt by a generation of leading fluid mechanists from Minnesota.

Professor Lundgren retired from the University of Minnesota in 2000.   He was an outstanding teacher, brilliant researcher, inspiring colleague, and a kind, modest human being. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues and friends in the AEM Department and at the University of Minnesota.  

Star Tribune Obituary for Thomas S. Lundgren,-phd