Harry L. Swinney

University of Texas at Austin
Physicist; Educator
Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Harry L. Swinney, now Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, was the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair of Physics, 1990-2018. In the 1970s-80s Swinney together with J.P. Gollub conducted experiments on fluids that revealed and characterized chaotic behavior in a fluid system. Swinney's group then characterized instabilities, chaos, and turbulence in several fluid systems. A laboratory model was designed to exhibit many of the properties of the Jovian atmospher, and experiments on this model provided insight into the formation and stability of Jupiter's Great Red Spot. Experiments on chemical systems yielded in 1991 the "Turing patterns" predicted by Alan Turing in 1952. Experiments and simulations on granular media yielded many different spatial patterns, including oscillating localized structures, "oscillons," which were subsequently found in mathematical models and in other types of physical and chemical systems. Swinney's current research concerns energy transport by internal gravity waves in the oceans, and crystallization in granular media. Swinney is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He was a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in 1983-84. He received the Jürgen Moser Award of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (2007), the Lewis Fry Richardson Medal of the European Geosciences Union (2012), and the Boltzmann Medal of the Commission on Statistical Physics of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (2013). In 1985 he became the founding director of the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics (, a research center at The University of Texas at Austin.

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