Donald Rockwell's research interests are focused on the physics of vortex-dominated flows and the associated areas of flow-induced vibration and noise generation.  He has been the Director/Principal Investigator for decades-long research programs funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research (ONR), and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). He has also directed programs funded by the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, NASA's Lewis and Langley Research Centers, Lockheed-Martin, Pratt and Whitney, Arrow International, and Combustion Research and Flow Technologies.

Rockwell has given seventeen keynote addresses and plenary lectures at international conferences in six countries. He was invited by AFOSR and ONR to chair three international workshops that brought together world leaders in the areas of unsteady flow and flow-structure interaction to define frameworks for long-range research objectives and funding. Rockwell served as editor and editor-in-chief of Experiments in Fluids for 15 years and was honored with a dedicated issue with contributions from international authorities. He is an author of over 210 journal publications. Over 180 of these publications have been cited at least 10 times. He developed short courses on flow-structure interaction (jointly with Professor Eduard Naudascher) held at sixteen locations worldwide involving participants from over seventy industrial and government organizations. He has served as a consultant for industrial firms in six countries. 

Rockwell was appointed an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Karlsruhe (Germany) and elected an Overseas Fellow of Churchill College at Cambridge University. He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He received the Fluid Dynamics Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the behavior of liquids and gases in motion.


  • Fluid-structure interactions leading to self-excited vibrations of airfoils and cylinders due to phenomena of vortex shedding, incident gusts, and flutter.
  • Flow-acoustic coupling arising from interaction between unsteady separated flows and resonant acoustic modes of internal flow systems including pipelines, cavities, and blade cascades.
  • Flow instabilities occurring in shallow environmental flows such as rivers, lakes, and coastal regions, giving rise to pollutant transport and bed erosion.
  • Laser-based imaging of vortex-dominated flows in conjunction with advanced image processing to determine underlying physical phenomena.


Donald Rockwell
Donald O. Rockwell
Paul B. Reinhold Professor
(610) 758-4107
Packard Lab 452
19 Memorial Dr. West
Bethlehem, PA 18015


Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Lehigh University
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Lehigh University
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Bucknell University