Funded Researchers

John Lienhard

John H. Lienhard V

  • Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Mechanical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Director, J-WAFS
  • Director, Rohsenow Kendall Heat Transfer Laboratory

John H. Lienhard V is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor and the founding Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab at MIT. During more than three decades on the MIT faculty, Lienhard’s research and educational efforts have focused on heat and mass transfer, water purification and desalination, and thermodynamics. He has also filled a number of administrative roles at MIT.

Lienhard received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in thermal engineering at UCLA from the Chemical, Nuclear, and Thermal Engineering Department, where he worked on buoyant instabilities in solar collectors and evaporating meniscus measurements for MED desalination systems. He joined MIT immediately after completing his PhD in the Applied Mechanics and Engineering Science Department at UC San Diego, where he developed spectral measurements and new scalings for strongly stratified turbulent flows. At MIT, Lienhard’s research on water purification has spanned a broad range of desalination technologies, encompassing fundamental thermodynamics, transport phenomena, chemical and electrochemical separations, technoeconomics, and system design. Lienhard has directly supervised more than 100 graduate theses and postdoctoral associates, and he is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications. He has been issued more than 40 U.S. patents, most of which have been commercialized through start-up companies. Lienhard is a registered professional engineer in Massachusetts and Vermont.

Lienhard is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a Fellow of the American Society of Thermal and Fluid Engineers (ASTFE). He is a recipient of the 1988 National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, the 1992 SAE Teetor Award, the 2012 ASME Technical Communities Globalization Medal, and the 2015 ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, the 2019 ASME Edward F. Obert Award, and the 2021 AIChE/ASME Donald Q. Kern Award.

Lienhard is the co-author of textbooks on heat transfer, on measurement and instrumentation, and on thermal modeling. He has received several teaching awards at MIT, including the Ruth and Joel Spira Award, the Den Hartog Distinguished Educator Award, and the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award. As Director of J-WAFS, Lienhard has sponsored millions of dollars of research on water and food supply for a growing population on a rapidly warming planet.

J-WAFS-funded projects