Bruce Caswell: In Memoriam

Emeritus Professor of Engineering Bruce Caswell, 85, passed away on September 24, 2021. Bruce was born in Recife, Brazil, to English parents, and raised in Niteroi / Rio de Janeiro. He spent his high school years in Victoria, British Columbia, and graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in engineering. He received his Ph.D. in 1962 from Stanford University and joined the faculty at the University of California, Davis as an assistant professor. 

Crunch Group
Bruce Caswell, lower right, with the CRUNCH Group. 

In 1966, he moved to Providence and joined the School of Engineering at Brown University, where he would spend the rest of his academic career. Professor Caswell’s main area of research was the numerical simulation of flow processes. 

“Bruce and I came to Brown the same year, in 1966,” said Emeritus Professor of Engineering Joseph T.C. Liu. “I remember Bruce and Robin threw a gigantic hayride party shortly after we came to Brown. He and I taught ENGN-7 (equivalent to ENGN-4 now) in the beginning together with the late Professor Jacques Duffy. Our offices were next to each other for many years and I treasured Bruce as a congenial colleague.”

While he retired in 2002, Caswell was still active in research and held an appointment as a Professor of Engineering (Research) until his death.  

“Upon his retirement about 20 years ago, Bruce worked closely with the CRUNCH research group in the Division of Applied Mathematics, where he supervised over a dozen postdocs, Ph.D. students, and visitors,” said Charles Pitts Robinson and John Palmer Barstow Professor of Applied Mathematics and Engineering George Karniadakis. “He co-authored over 30 papers published in rheology and biomedical journals as well as in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” 

Bruce was instrumental in developing, together with Karniadakis, a new area in complex fluids for mesoscale modeling of complex fluids including healthy and diseased blood such as malaria, sickle cell anemia, and diabetes. This work later was funded by the Department of Energy Collaboratory on Mathematics for Mesoscopic Modeling of Materials (CM4).

Bruce traveled extensively for his work and pleasure. He was fluent in Portuguese and spent a year as a visiting professor at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He also spent a year each at University of Grenoble, France, and the University of Sydney, Australia. In more recent times he and his wife Robin enjoyed exploring the national parks in the West. Their Maine cottage afforded him much pleasure for his love of nature. There was always a carpentry project in process in his workshop in the barn. 

He enjoyed dancing, sailing, and a daily swim. Bruce was a kind and caring person with a great sense of humor and unfailing integrity. He is survived by his wife Robin, his two daughters Alexandra and Eloise, and five grandchildren.