University of Wisconsin Theoretical & Computational Mechanics of Materials Group

Welcome to the site describing the work taking place in the Bronkhorst Group at the University of Wisconsin. We currently have openings for U.S citizen Ph.D. students and postdoctoral associates. If interested, please contact Prof. Bronkhorst directly at

The design, use, and computational representation of structural components for applications involving complex and/or extreme loading conditions remains a key research area. The basis for building this capability fundamentally rests on our physical understanding of the mechanistic processes involved, which then motivate the form of the mathematical framework. At these early stages of understanding and modeling structural evolution in materials for complex and/or extreme structural loading, the nature of the work necessary to make significant advancements must be based upon a fundamental coupling of mathematics, materials science, and theoretical/computational mechanics of materials. It is recognized that structural evolution in materials in a spatial sense is an extreme-event process and must be described by the appropriate mathematics. Thus, mathematics must be the basis for adopting experimental and computational results and must assist in defining the results needed. This research can also form the fundamental basis for the design of materials for targeted performance depending upon application area.

The vision for our work here in the Theoretical & Computational Mechanics of Materials Group at the University of Wisconsin is to offer a new approach to the study and prediction of multi-physics events taking place within materials exposed to conditions of extreme loading. The physical theories which presume to represent coupled behavior are based upon hypotheses developed through physical insight gained from experiments, physics simulations, and collected experience comparing simulations with experimental results. This continuous improvement process for advancing our ability to predict responses of materials to complex and/or extreme loading conditions is the basis for a strategy of intense coupling of simultaneous advancements in theory, experiment, and computation. The nucleation, growth, and impingement/coalescence progression of both phase transformation and damage are challenging topics to explore under the loading conditions of interest. The rate of change of dislocation structure, deformation twinning, structural phase change and damage are intimately linked with the nature of the nucleated field. The nucleated field is very difficult to interrogate experimentally, and supplementation of insight gained via computational results are critical to enable tangible and timely progress. We propose to address the extreme events of plasticity, phase change and damage through the development of an extreme-event methodology and mathematics tools. With this, our goal is to eventually engage large datasets of experimental and computational information to rigorously guide our learning process and enable simultaneous use of different types of information self-consistently.

We invite you to reach out to us to discuss our work further via email to the addresses listed on the Group Members page.