The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment
(023) 8059 4872

Professor Neil D Sandham BSc, MS, PhD, CEng, FRAeS, MAIAA

Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Head of Aeronautics, Astronautics and Computational Engineering Unit

Professor Neil D Sandham's photo
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Professor Neil D Sandham is Professor of Aerospace Engineering within Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton.

Current position

Neil Sandham has been Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southampton since January 1999 and is currently Head of the Aeronautics, Astronautics and Computational Engineering Unit (AACE). Previously he was at Stanford University (1985-89), DLR Göttingen (1989-91) and Queen Mary and Westfield College (1991-98).  His expertise is in direct numerical simulation of the governing equations of fluid motion for transitional and turbulent fluid flow, with applications to compressible flow mixing and modelling, transitional separation bubbles, complex turbulent flows including separation and reattachment, trailing edge and near wake flow, shock-turbulence interaction and aeroacoustics.  Recent work also includes multiphase flow simulation in the context of drag reduction and numerical simulation of flow over rough surfaces over a range of Mach numbers. 


Neil Sandham studied for a Bachelors degree at Leeds University in 1984 and a Masters degree at Stanford University in California in 1986, aided by a Fullbright Scholarship.   He completed a PhD at Stanford in 1989, with a thesis entitled 'A numerical investigation of the compressible mixing layer'.  From 1989 to 1991 he took up a position as Guest Scientist at the German Aerospace Research Laboratory (DLR) in Göttingen, working on problems of transition to turbulence.  In 1991 he returned to the UK, taking up a lecturing position at Queen Mary and Westfield College.  He was promoted to Reader in 1998 and in 1999 took up appointment as Professor of Aerospace Engineering in Southampton.  In 1999 he was co-organiser of the Royal Academy of Engineering research programme on turbulence at the Isaac Newton Institute in the University of Cambridge.  Since arriving at Southampton he has served as Head of Research Group, Course Co-ordinator for Aeronautics and Astronautics and Deputy Head of the School of Engineering Sciences, and has taught undergraduate modules in Aerodynamics, Aerothermodynamics, Aircraft Dynamics, Applied Aerodynamics and Wing Dynamics.  He has supervised over 10 PhD students to a successful completion and published over 70 papers with more than 1300 citations (ISI Web of Knowledge).  He has received funding from EPSRC (25 total, 5 active projects) and EU sources (6 total, 3 active projects) as well as contracts from industry and research establishments.  In the last 5 years he has given three invited plenary talks at international conferences.  He is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.





Research interests

  • all areas of aerodynamics, including theoretical and computational fluid mechanics
  • direct numerical simulation (DNS) of transition and turbulence
  • transitional separation bubbles
  • aeroacoustics
  • shock-wave/boundary-layer interactions
  • receptivity mechanisms for transition to turbulence
  • modelling of aerofoil based on an unsteady viscous-inviscid interaction
  • drag reduction based on partial slip (superhydrophobic surface technology)
  • optimisation of computer codes for massively parallel GPU architectures
Transition to turbulence in a 3D separation bubble
Transition to turbulence
Pressure contours from a PSE calculation
Pressure contours
Showing the effect of wall temperature and Mach number on turbulent spots in high-speed boundary layers
Turbulent spots
Low-frequency unsteadiness of a shock-wave/boundary-layer interaction: side and plan views showing temperature (blue = hot fluid) and reverse flow (yellow)
Shock-wave boundary layer

Research group(s)

Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics

Research project(s)

Ab initio hydrodynamic rough surface characterisation with applications

Aerofoil separation bubbles

Engineering of surfaces for drag reduction in water with validation using computational and experimental methods

Jet noise mechanisms

Turbulent spots in high-speed boundary layers

Low-frequency unsteadiness of a shock-wave/boundary-layer interaction

SBLI computer code



Book Section(s)




Module titleModule codeDisciplineRole
Applied Aerodynamics SESA3003 Aerospace Engineering Course leader
Aerothermodynamics SESA2004 Aerospace Engineering Course co-ordinator
Professor Neil D Sandham
Engineering and the Environment University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number:13/5005

Telephone:(023) 8059 4872
Facsimile:(023) 8059 3058

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