Professor John H. Lienhard

Director, Abdul Latif Jameel World Water & Food Security Lab, MIT

John H. Lienhard V is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor and the Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab at MIT, J-WAFS. J-WAFS is MIT’s central effort to bring science, engineering, and technology innovation to bear on the challenges of water and food supply in the face of growing population, rising living standards, and a changing climate (

During almost 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 his bachelor’s and master’s degrees 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 had done experimental work on thermally stratified turbulent flows with application to mixing in the oceans and atmospheres. His research in recent years has encompassed all aspects of desalination, including forward and reverse osmosis, membrane distillation, humidification-dehumidification, bubble column technology, electrodialysis, nanofiltration, fouling and scaling, industrial wastewater treatment, solar desalination, and energy efficiency. Lienhard’s research has also included high heat flux engineering, reaching fluxes up to ≈40 kW/cm2. Lienhard has directly supervised more than 85 graduate theses and postdoctoral associates, and he is author of approximately 200 peer-reviewed publications. He holds more than eighteen issued US Patents, which have been commercialized in the water and electronics industries. Technologies developed by his group have been commercialized through several start-up companies.

Lienhard is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and he is a recipient of the 1988 National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, the 1992 SAE Teetor Award, a 1997 R&D 100 Award, the 2012 ASME Technical Communities Globalization Medal, and the 2015 ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award. During 2011-2017, Lienhard and his students received twelve best paper, poster, or presentation awards at national and international conferences and from journals for their desalination research.

Lienhard is the co-author of textbooks on heat transfer, on measurement and instrumentation, and on thermal modeling. His heat transfer book has been available online at no charge since 2002, and hundreds of thousand copies have been downloaded worldwide ( He has also received several teaching awards at MIT.

Professor Lienhard has been the Director of the Rohsenow Kendall Heat Transfer Laboratory since 1997, and he is the Founding Director of the Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy and of the Ibn Khaldun Fellowship program for Saudi Arabian Women. His research collaborations have extended to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Kuwait, India, Israel, Chile, Spain, and elsewhere.