Michael Sprague

Senior Scientist I: Computational Science and Applied Mathematics

Photo of Michael Sprague
(303) 275-4367

Dr. Michael Sprague joined the Computational Science Center at NREL as a senior scientist in 2010. As a graduate student, he developed a parallel spectral finite element method for treating the interaction of large marine structures with an acoustic fluid subject to cavitation. He spent 2 years as an NSF-VIGRE postdoctoral fellow in Applied Mathematics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, working on rotationally constrained convection, which has application to ocean deep convection. Before coming to NREL, Dr. Sprague spent 5 years as assistant professor and founding faculty in applied mathematics at the University of California, Merced. There he was the faculty lead in developing the new graduate program in applied mathematics.

See more at his personal Web site.

Professional Experience

  • 2010-present, senior scientist, NREL
  • 2005-2010, assistant professor, applied mathematics, University of California, Merced
  • 2005, 2007, visiting assistant professor, EGIM, Laboratoire de Modélisation en Mécanique à Marseille, France
  • 2003-2005, research associate, applied mathematics, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • 2002-2003, adjunct professor, mechanical engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Research Interests 

  • Computational mechanics of fluids, structures, and their interaction
  • Spectral finite-element methods for time-dependent partial-differential equations
  • High-performance computing.


  • 2002 Ph.D., mechanical engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder

  • 1999 M.S., mechanical engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder

  • 1997 B.S., mechanical engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Selected Publications 

  1. Sprague, M.A.; Weidman, P.D. (2010). "Three-dimensional Flow Induced by the Torsional Motion of a Cylinder." Fluid Dynamics Research (42);
  2. Ross, M.; Sprague, M.A.; Felippa, C.A.; Park, K.C. (2009). "Treatment of Acoustic Fluid-structure Interaction by Localized Lagrange Multipliers and Comparison to Alternative Interface Coupling Methods." Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering (198); pp. 986-1005. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cma.2008.11.006.
  3. Serre, E.; Sprague, M.A.; Lueptow, R.M. (2008). "Stability of Taylor-Couette Flow in a Finite-length Cavity with Radial Throughflow." Physics of Fluids (20); p. 034106.
  4. Sprague, M.A.; Geers, T.L. (2008). "Legendre Spectral Finite Elements for Structural Dynamics Analysis." Communications in Numerical Methods in Engineering (24); pp. 1953-1965. http://dx.doi.org/1002/cnm.1086.
  5. Sprague, M.; Julien, K.; Knobloch, E.; Werne, J. (2006). "Numerical Simulation of an Asymptotically Reduced System for Rotationally Constrained Convection." Journal of Fluid Mechanics (551); pp. 141-174.
  6. Sprague, M.A.; Geers, T.L. (2004). "A Spectral-element Method for Modeling Cavitation in Transient Fluid-structure Interaction." International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering (60); pp. 2467-2499.