William L. Roberts, Ph.D.


Director of Clean Combustion Research Center | Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Research Interests

​Dr. Roberts’ research interests include experimental combustion, propulsion, and laser-based optical diagnostics for reacting flows.  Of fundamental interest is the complex interaction between the various length and velocity scales in turbulent flows and the chemical kinetics associated with combustion.  His focus is on understanding these interactions in canonical flames, using advanced techniques to measure scalar and vector quantities of interest.  He is currently building a unique high-pressure combustion capability at KAUST which will be used to understand combustion phenomena, particularly formation of pollutants such as soot, occurring in practical combustion hardware such as gas turbines and internal combustion engines.

Selected Publications


  • ​Ph.D., Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1992
  • B.S.E, Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1986 

Professional Profile

Director of Clean Combustion Research Center | Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • Chairman for the Eastern States Section of the Combustion Institute, beginning two year term Oct 2011 (previously held Vice-Chair, Program Chair, Papers Chair, Local Arrangements Chair positions)
  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (senior member, member of Propellants and Combustion TC)
  • American Chemical Society
  • Society of Automotive Engineers 


  • Inaugural Progress Energy Faculty Fellow, Dept. of Mech. & Aero. Eng, 2002
  • Inaugural BASF Undergraduate Research Award, Dept of Mech. & Aero. Eng, 2000
  • NSF CAREERs Award recipient 1996
  • ARO Young Investigators Award recipient, 1995 

KAUST Affiliations

  • ​Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC)
  • Division of Physical Sciences and Engineering (PSE)

Non-KAUST Affiliations



Research Interests Keywords

Experimental Combustion Propulsion, and Laser-Based Optical Diagnostics for Reacting Flows