Bram van Leer

Arthur B. Modine Emeritus Professor


An astrophysicist by education, Van Leer made seminal contributions to CFD in his 5-part article series “Towards the Ultimate Conservative Difference Scheme (1972-1979),” where he extended Godunov’s finite-volume scheme to the second order (MUSCL), developed nonoscillatory interpolation using limiters, an approximate Riemann solver, and Discontinuous-Galerkin schemes for unsteady advection. Since joining the University of Michigan’s Aerospace Engineering Department (1986) he has worked on convergence acceleration by local preconditioning and multigrid relaxation for Euler and Navier-Stokes problems, unsteady adaptive grids, space-environment modeling, atmospheric flow modeling, extended hydrodynamics for rarefied flows, and Discontinuous Galerkin methods. He retired in 2012.

Throughout his career, Van Leer has crossed interdisciplinary boundaries to export state-of-the-art CFD technology. Starting from astrophysics, he first made an impact on weapons research, followed by aeronautics, then space-weather modeling, atmospheric modeling, surface-water modeling and automotive engine modeling, to name the most important fields.


Professor (1986 – August 31, 2012)


  • Leiden State University
    • PhD ’70
    • Doctorandus ’66
    • Candidate ’63

Research Interests

  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Numerical Analysis

Professional Service

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Fellow)
  • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematic


  • College of Engineering Research Award (University of Michigan 1996)
  • Elected AIAA Fellow (1995)
  • NASA Langley Group Achievement Award (1990, 1992)
  • Department of Aerospace Engineering Research Award (University of Michigan 1992)
  • Honorary Doctorate (Vrije Universiteit Brussels 1990)
  • C.J. Kok Prize (Leiden State University 1978)

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