Lienhard Research Group, March 2017

Lienhard Research Group, March 2017: Hyung Won Chung, Amit Kumar, Kishor Nayar, Andrew Bouma, Christine Gervais, Yvana Ahdab, Milani Chatterji-Len, Emily Tow, Elizabeth Vasquez, David Warsinger, John Lienhard, Fengmin Du, Tamanna Urmi, Karim Chehayeb, Pablo Polanco, Jaichander Swaminathan, Yagnaseni Roy, Omar Labban, Quantum Wei, Theresa Werth

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John H. Lienhard V: John H. Lienhard V is Abdul Latif Jameel Professor and the Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab at MIT. During nearly three decades on the MIT faculty, Lienhard’s research and educational efforts have focused on water purification and desalination, heat and mass transfer, and thermodynamics. He has also filled a number of administrative roles at MIT. Lienhard received his bachelors (summa cum laude) and masters degrees in thermal engineering at UCLA from the Chemical, Nuclear, and Thermal Engineering Department, where he worked on thermal instabilities in solar collectors and evaporating meniscus measurements for desalination systems. He joined MIT immediately after completing his PhD in the Applied Mechanics and Engineering Science Department at UC San Diego, where he did experimental work on thermally stratified turbulent flows. Since coming to MIT, Lienhard has worked on desalination processes, liquid jet impingement, high heat flux engineering, electronics thermal management, and other topics. His research in desalination includes humidification-dehumidification desalination, membrane distillation desalination, forward and reverse osmosis, fouling and scale formation, electrodialysis, nanofiltration, management of high salinity brines, solar-driven desalination, thermodynamic and energy efficiency analysis of desalination cycles, and energy-water nexus issues. Lienhard has directly supervised more than 85 graduate theses and postdoctoral associates. He is the author of 200 peer reviewed papers and has been issued more than 18 US patents.

Lienhard 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 Globalization Medal, and the 2015 ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award. He has been the Director of the Rohsenow Kendall Heat Transfer Laboratory since 1997, and he is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Lienhard is the co-author of textbooks on heat transfer, on thermal modeling, and on measurement and instrumentation. His heat transfer book has been available online at no charge since 2002, and hundreds of thousands of copies have been downloaded worldwide. His measurements book has sold more than 100,000 copies. He has created new courses on desalination, on thermal modeling, and on compressible fluid mechanics. He has also received several teaching awards at MIT. Professor Lienhard has been the Director of the Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy since it was founded in 2008. He is also the founding director of the Ibn Khaldun Fellowship for Saudi Arabian Women.

Current Graduate Students, Postdocs, and Research Staff

Dr. Amit Kumar: Dr. Amit Kumar is a Research Scientist working towards clean energy technology. Recently, he joined MIT’s Mechanical Engineering Department after completing his postdoctoral studies in the Chemical Engineering Department at MIT. He was an adjunct researcher at Harvard University during his postdoc. His research interests include sustainable water-energy-bioelectrochemical systems for energy generation and resource recovery. During his postdoctoral research at MIT, Dr. Kumar co-authored the development of syngas conversion to biofuels integrated system, which was published in PNAS. This work received significant interest from major scientific media ,including editor’s highlights in Nature and Science, among others. He has published 30 peer reviewed journal articles among PNAS, Nature, and Science. He has received 25 major awards including the international doctoral dissertation award (AWMA), and NAMS, IWA Biofilm Technologies, and Marie Curie awards, as well as several grants. He has been part of the MIT Energy Club’s leadership team since 2013, and he currently serves as the Director of Strategy and Impact. He is an associate editor for the Frontiers in Energy Research Journal.

Dr. Gregory P. Thiel: Gregory is a postdoctoral associate investigating the recovery of valuable chemicals from desalination plant brine. His past research topics include energy efficiency and entropy generation minimization, heat and mass transfer, and wastewater chemistry. Beyond his research, Greg has taught heat transfer and served in various roles in the MIT Water Club and the Graduate Association of Mechanical Engineers. He was named a Shapiro Teaching Fellow in 2016, and has also received the Martin Family Fellowship for Sustainability and an Eni-MIT Energy Initiative Fellowship. Greg completed a Ph.D. (2015) and an S.M. (2012) with the group and holds a B.S.E. in mechanical engineering (2010), summa cum laude, from Case Western Reserve University. (More details at

Dr. David Martin Warsinger: David is a Postdoctoral Associate working membrane distillation (MD) fouling and efficiency, and other desalination technologies. His desalination research has included system thermodynamics of the leading thermal desalination technologies, as well as reverse osmosis and mechanical vapor compression. David’s other research and inventions have included heat transfer of buildings, finite element optimization, oxycombustion, solar thermal technologies, UV purification, wind turbines, and pollutant removal. David is a cofounder of Coolify, where he helped designed their product and helped win multiple pitch competitions, bringing in over $125k. A dedicated teacher and adviser, David earned the 2015 MIT Outstanding UROP Graduate Mentor award. David also earned the Top of Class Outstanding Achievement Award for his Masters at Cornell University, where he also earned his Bachelors. He completed his masters and PhD in 3 calendar years. David is pursuing roughly a dozen patents for his inventions, and about two dozen journal or conference papers (more information at

Emily W. Tow: Emily is a PhD candidate and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Her research addresses issues of sustainability (water, food, energy) through fundamental studies of heat and mass transfer. In 2014, she completed her SM in this group on the topic of bubble column heat and mass exchangers for HDH desalination. Emily received her SB at MIT in 2012 in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Art, Culture, and Technology. While at MIT, Emily has received the Park Award for Outstanding Performance in Manufacturing, a Flowers Family Fellowship, and a Pappalardo Fellowship.

Karim M. Chehayeb: Karim is a PhD candidate working on improving the energy efficiency of electrodialysis through better understanding of design parameters and operating conditions. In 2014, he completed his SM with the group on the thermodynamic balancing of humidification-dehumidification (HDH) desalination systems. He received his Bachelor’s of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon in June 2012.

Kishor Nayar: Kishor is a PhD student modeling how the thermo-physical properties of sea-water vary with pressure. Kishor received his B.Tech with Honors in Mechanical Engineering alongside a Minor in Energy Science from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), India. His primary research interests are in the field of clean energy and clean water. His past research includes work related to nanotechnology, heat transfer and thermodynamics. He is currently filing for 2 patents with the Indian PTO on new heat exchanger designs for HVAC applications.

Jaichander Swaminathan: Jaichander is a PhD student currently analyzing inorganic fouling phenomena in Membrane Distillation (MD) desalination systems. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Physics from Indian Institute of Technology Madras, where he also received the award for Best Inter-Disciplinary project work.

Hyung Won Chung: Hyung Won is a PhD student currently working on pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO) and high salinity desalination technologies such as membrane distillation. His past research includes two-phase jet impingement cooling for electronic devices. He received his Bachelor’s of Science-Mechanical Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison with Highest Distinction (summa cum laude).

Yagnaseni Roy: Yagnaseni is a Master’s student working on Nano-filtration and its application as a pre-treatment method for desalination plants. Yagnaseni received her Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering (B.Tech) at the SRM University, India as the top ranking student in her department. She has previously worked on ‘Microfluidic Cell sorting’ and ‘Ciliary motion and its simulation’ as undergraduate projects at MIT and IIT Madras respectively.

Omar Labban: Omar is a PhD student interested in the intersection of thermal sciences with membrane technology and desalination. While at MIT, Omar received a Pappalardo fellowship, and completed his SM with the group on modeling novel nanofiltration hollow fiber modules operating under exceedingly low pressures for desalination pretreatment. Omar holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering (summa cum laude) from the American University in Dubai, where he was also awarded the School of Engineering Undergraduate Program Award.

Yvana Ahdab: Yvana is a Master’s student working on modeling groundwater desalination processes. She received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. As an undergraduate, she conducted research on the effects of chemical treatment and ocean currents on oil dispersion. She also worked on the development of an energy harvesting cooling device for her senior design project. The venture was awarded best project and is currently in the patent review process.

Quantum Wei: Quantum is a Master’s student working on high pressure reverse osmosis systems. He received his SB at MIT in 2015 in Mechanical Engineering. Quantum researched path-planning of underwater vehicles for his SB thesis. While at MIT, he also worked on the designs of a satellite antenna deployment system and an adjustable prosthetic leg socket using granular jamming.

Andrew Bouma: Andrew is a Master’s student is working on treating highly saline brines. He received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Calvin College. As an undergraduate, he worked on many different projects including the development of a thermoelectrically-cooled prosthetic leg socket, research on titanium particle behavior for metal 3D printing applications, and patent development for shape memory alloy actuation technology.


Christine Gervais: Christine has been Administrative Assistant to Professor Lienhard at the Center for Water and Clean Energy since 2012. Prior to joining the Center, she worked at MIT at the Deshpande Center. Christine has extensive experience working in both non-profits (YWCA and Center for Women & Enterprise) and for corporations (Gillette, Liberty Mutual). Christine began her career in Paris, France, at the International Astronautical Federation, organizing annual scientific conferences. She has been living in Boston since 1997 and enjoys working in an international environment, at MIT.

Recent Alumni

Dr. Leonardo D. Banchik: Leo was a Ph.D. Candidate and NSF Graduate Research Fellow working to improve the performance of membrane-based desalination and water treatment technologies. As a Master’s student, he studied osmotic mass exchangers, such as reverse osmosis, pressure-retarded osmosis, and forward osmosis systems, for use in desalination, energy recovery and power production, and concentration or dilution processes. For his PhD work, Leo investigated the use of advanced membranes for highly efficient separation of oil-water streams. While not in the lab, Leo served on the leadership board of the MIT Water Club where he held the roles of club Co-President, Director of Content for the 2014 MIT Water Summit, and Co-Founder of the MIT Water Innovation Prize. Leo has received an S.M. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, summa cum laude, from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. More details at

Dr. Ronan K. McGovern: Ronan was a post-doctoral fellow, PhD, and SM student in our group, researching membrane based desalination technologies for high salinity feedwaters. He is a former Fulbright Science and Technology, MIT Martin Family and MIT Hugh Hampton fellow as well as a recipient of the International Desalination Association’s Channabasappa Memorial Scholarship, Best Paper Award for a Young Leader at the 2013 World Congress in Tianjin and the Ilya Prigogine Prize for Thermodynamics. Ronan currently serves as co-chair of the International Desalination Association’s Young Leaders Program. He has published in the areas of solar thermal energy, humidification-dehumidification desalination, ejector compressors, reverse osmosis, forward osmosis, electrodialysis and hybrid desalination systems. Ronan holds a Bachelor’s degree from University College Dublin and a Master’s and PhD degree from MIT, all in Mechanical Engineering. Further details are available on his personal website.

Dr. Edward K. Summers: Edward completed his PhD with the group in 2013. His research focused on the design and optimization of membrane distillation (MD) based desalination systems for increased energy efficiency. The work included the development and testing of novel heating configurations and operating conditions for air gap MD systems. He earned his Master of Science degree in June 2010 with the group studying air heating solar collectors with integrated energy storage. Prior to joining the group, Edward earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Karan H. Mistry: Karan completed his PhD in 2013. His research focused on the irreversibilities and nonidealities in desalination systems. Specifically, he characterized the energy requirements associated with separation processes and identified how irreversible behavior and nonideal system behavior results in increased energy consumption. By combining thermodynamics, chemistry, and economics, he was able to characterize the cost implications of various sources of losses. Additionally, he spent some time modeling and optimizing large scale cogeneration water and power plants. Karan also completed his Master’s of Science with the group while studying humidification-dehumidification desalination cycles. Prior to joining the group, Karan earned his Bachelor’s of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Currently, Karan is a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. (More details at

Dr. Prakash Narayan Govindan: Prakash was a PhD student in the group, finishing in August 2012, and later a postdoctoral associate in the group. He was also a MIT Legatum fellow for the year 2010-2011. Prakash received the de Florez prize at MIT for graduate design and a best paper award at the IDA World Congress on Desalination and Water Reuse. His research experiences include pool boiling heat transfer studies of nanoparticle suspensions, thermodynamic design of combined cycle (gas and steam turbine) power plants, and thermal design of seawater desalination systems. He has co-authored more than 12 international journal publications and has filed more than 14 patent disclosures at the US PTO. He is now Vice President of Gradiant Corporation, a start-up which he co-founded with other members of the Rohsenow Kendall Lab.

Dr. Wilko Rohlfs: Wilko was a post-doctoral fellow from Germany funded by a grant of the German academic exchange organization (DAAD). His research at MIT focused on the mass transfer in channel flows with periodic spacer arrangements at low Reynolds numbers. Those flows are present in various membrane technologies, such as electro-dialysis or spirally wound membrane modules in modern reverse osmosis and nano-filtration installations. Wilko is research group leader at RWTH Aachen University focusing on convective transport processes. He is author and co-author of more than twenty peer-reviewed articles covering various areas in the field of free surface flow instabilities (liquid films and drops), heat transfer in jet impingement, as well as energy economics. Wilko holds a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering (2015, summa cum laude) and a PhD degree in Economics (2014, magna cum laude) from RWTH Aachen University, Germany. More details on his research can be found at

Dr. Seongpil Jeong: Seongpil was a Postdoctoral Fellow funded by Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) during 2013-14. Seongpil is interested in desalination process from pre-treatment to main separation process. Additionally, Seongpil has been studying membrane distillation for desalination of seawater and RO brines and for remediation of toxic heavy metal (Arsenic) in groundwater. Seongpil’s research at MIT concerned scaling phenomenon on membrane surfaces during the membrane distillation process. He received his Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D. degrees from Seoul National University. He now works as a research scientist at KIST.

Dr. Fahad Al-Sulaiman: Fahad is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. His research focus is on the thermal, thermodynamic, and thermoeconomic (exergoeconomic) analyses of thermal systems based on solar thermal energy.  He received his PhD from the University of Waterloo in 2010.  He has authored more than 10 international journal papers and 6 conference papers. He was a member of the group from September 2011 to July 2012.

Dr. Anand K. Plappally: Anand is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Rajasthan. His research experience includes analyzing different pathways of energy use for water supply, treatment/purification and reclamation. He received his PhD (Engr) from The Ohio State University in 2010. He has worked in the areas of Fluids, Material Science, Fracture Mechanics, and Probabilistic Methods in Structural Engineering. He had also worked in the area of Agricultural Water Management. Dr. Plappally was a member of the group from February 2011 to February 2012.

Dr. Mostafa H. Sharqawy: Mostafa is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. His research experience include computational fluid dynamics, boiling heat transfer, thermal & membrane desalination, geothermal energy, solar energy, optimization, borehole heat exchangers, cooling towers, heat transfer in porous medium, thermophysical and transport properties, and thermoeconomic analysis. Dr. Sharqawy joined the group from 10/2008 to 8/2010 as a postdoctoral associate. He worked on various tasks related to solar desalination and seawater thermophysical properties. Please visit his personal website for more information.

Xiaoyuan “Charlene” Ren: Charlene did her Environmental Engineering Master’s research on wastewater treatment technologies for small-scale pulp and paper mills in India, focusing specifically on a scalable solution to lignin removal for black liquor. She worked as a Tata Fellow funded through the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design, a research center working on product and technology design for India. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Vassar College with Sigma Xi honors.

Adam M. Weiner: Adam did his Master’s research on the design of electrodialysis and reverse electrodialysis systems. Prior to joining the group, Adam received a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University with a second major in Physics. As an undergraduate, Adam was honored as a Barry Goldwater Scholar and CoSIDA/Capital-One Academic All-American as a member of the varsity baseball team. Adam now works for Navigant.

Lige Sun: Lige was a visiting Master’s student from RWTH Aachen University (Germany). She worked on the modeling and optimization of electrodialysis systems. She is a recipient of the Dr. Jürgen Ulderup Scholarship and a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation. She now works for GE in Munich.

Mohamad H. Mirhi: Mohamad’s masters thesis research focused on wastewater remediation technologies and scale formation on heated surfaces. His work addressed problems related to purification technologies for water produced during oil recovery and water used during hydrofracking. Mohamad received his Bachelor’s of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering along with the Highly Distinguished Graduate Award from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon in June 2011, and his SM from MIT in June 2013.

Jacob Miller: Jacob pursued his Master’s degree while continuing to work part time at GE Aviation in Lynn, MA as a gas turbine design engineer.  His research focused on the thermal balancing of desalination systems to reduce entropy generation and increase system efficiency.  Prior to MIT, Jacob worked full time at GE Aviation and graduated from Yale University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Jacob now works at TIAX, LLC.

Martin Sievers: Martin Sievers is a doctoral student at Stuttgart University, Germany. He obtained a B. Sc. in General Engineering Science and a Dipl.-Ing. in Mechanical Engineering from Hamburg University of Technology, Germany. In 2008/09 he was a visiting graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and in 2010 in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests are power electronics cooling, heat exchanger design, and fluid dynamics of multi-component mixtures involving heat and mass transfer.

Steven Lam: Steven started as an undergraduate researcher in the summer of 2011, and received his Bachelor’s degree from MIT in 2012. He has focused on high effectiveness, low capex bubble columns to be used as humidifiers and dehumidifiers in HDH desalination plants. In a joint partnership with Dr. Govindan, he received the de Florez prize at MIT in Graduate Design for multistage bubble column dehumidifier. Steven currently works for Gradiant Corporation, a start-up founded by members of the Rohsenow Kendall Lab.

Maximus St. John: Maximus started as an undergraduate researcher in 2011 designing and building a humidification-dehumidification (HDH) desalination plant. He received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 2012. His SB thesis was on packed bed humidifiers, for use in oilfield desalination systems. He now works for Gradiant Corporation, a start-up founded by members of the Rohsenow Kendall Lab.

Yoshio Perez: Yoshio worked in the lab as a UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) while completing his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineer. His work consisted in finding efficient expanders that can work with low pressure ratios. He designed a test setup to show that a car turbocharger,K03, can work at low pressure ratios with a moderate efficiency. Prior to working with desalination, Yoshio worked with Volumetric Solar Collectors and Zeolite material in the Device Research Laboratory.

Group Photo Archive

Lienhard Research Group, Dec. 2015

Group members in December 2015. From left: Hyung Won Chung, Yvana Ahdab, Quantum Wei, Yagnanesi Roy, Kishor Nayar, David Warsinger, Greg Thiel, Karim Chehayeb, Omar Labban, John Lienhard, Leonardo Banchik, Wilko Rohlfs, Tamanna Urmi, Emily Tow, Luke Roberto, Christine Gervais, Ronan McGovern. Photo credit: Tony Pulsone.

Lienhard Research Group, April 2014

Lienhard Research Group, April 2014. From left: Charlene Ren, Kishor Nayar, Yagnaseni Roy, Adam Weiner, Christine Gervais, David Warsinger, Ronan McGovern, Bader Al Anzi (Kuwait University), Seongpil Jeong, Mohit Kansal, John Lienhard, Gregory Thiel, Jaichander Swaminathan, Leonardo Banchik, Lige Sun, Karim Chehayeb, Hyung Won Chun, Emily Tow. Photo credit: Tony Pulsone.

Lienhard Research Group, March 2013.

Lienhard Research Group, March 2013. From left: Emily Tow, Maximus St. John, Jaichander Swaminathan, Steven Lam, Leonardo Banchik, John Lienhard, Gregory Thiel, David Martin Warsinger, Edward Summers, Ronan McGovern, Karim Chehayeb, Kishor Nayar, Karan Mistry, Trevor Zinser, and Mohamed Mirhi.Photo credit: Tony Pulsone.

Lienhard Research Group in October 2011

Lienhard Research Group in October 2011 (from left): Anand Plappaly, Prakash Narayan, Mohamad Mirhi, Ronan McGovern, Summers, Greg Thiel, John Lienhard, Leo Banchik, Karan Mistry, Fahad Al-Sulaiman

Group members in June 2011 (from left): Edward Summers, Ronan McGovern, Greg Thiel, Professor Amro Qutub (KFUPM), Professor Mostafa Sharqawy (KFUPM), Professor John Lienhard, Prakash Narayan, Professor Syed Zubair (KFUPM), Karan Mistry, Jacob Miller, Professor Mohamed Antar (KFUPM)

Group members in October 2010 (from left): Jacob Miller, Professor Hassan Arafat (Masdar Institute), Martin Sievers, Ronan McGovern, Karan Mistry, John Lienhard, Greg Thiel, Ping Wong, Yoshio Perez, Prakash Narayan. Photo credit: Tony Pulsone.