John Lienhard is the director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) and the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Food at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Established in 2014, J-WAFS supports the development and deployment of technologies, policies and programmes to solve water and food scarcity challenges at a global scale. Prior to becoming the first director of J-WAFS, John held various administrative and teaching roles at MIT during his three decade-tenure at the university.
John’s research and teaching career focuses on water purification and desalination, heat and mass transfer and thermodynamics. His work has covered desalination processes, liquid jet impingement, high heat flux engineering, electronics thermal management, among other topics. He is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed papers and has been issued 38 US patents. He is also the co-author of textbooks on heat transfer, on thermal modelling and on measurement and instrumentation. His book, 'A heat transfer textbook', has been available online free of cost since 2002.
John has received numerous awards for this work, including the 1988 National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, the 1992 SAE Teetor Award, a 1997 R&D 100 Award, the 2012 ASME Globalisation Medal, the 2015 ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, the 2019 ASME Edward F Obert Award in thermodynamics and the 2021 AIChE Donald Q. Kern Award for expertise in heat transfer, transport phenomena and energy conversion.
John took a bachelor’s (summa cum laude) and master’s degree in thermal engineering from UCLA, followed by a PhD in applied mechanics and engineering at UC San Diego, where he carried out experimental work on thermally stratified turbulent flows. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Thermal and Fluid Engineers. He has been the director of the Rohsenow Kendall Heat Transfer Laboratory since 1997.
John was the founding director of the Centre for Clean Water and Clean Energy from 2008 to 2017. He was also the founding director of MIT's Ibn Khaldun Fellowship for Saudi Arabian Women from 2009 to 2017.