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

  • Effect of the mixing fields on the stability and structure of turbulent partially premixed flames in a concentric f...
    M. Mansour, A. Elbaz, W. Roberts, M. Senosy, M. Zayed, M. Juddoo, A.R. Masri
    Combustion and Flame, 175, 180-200, (2017)
  • Numerical modeling of MILD combustion at high pressure to predict the optimal operating conditions
    V.M. Reddy, W.L. Roberts
    Combustion for Power Generation and Transportation, 5576, (2017)
  • Quantitative effects of rapid heating on soot-particle sizing through analysis of two-pulse LII
    E. Cenker, W.L. Roberts
    Applied Physics B, 123, 74, (2017)
  • Soot particle size distribution functions in a turbulent non-premixed ethylene-nitrogen flame
    W. Boyette, S. Chowdhury, W.L. Roberts
    Flow Turbulence Combustion, 1-14, (2017)
  • Time-averaged probability density functions of soot nanoparticles along the centerline of a piloted turbulent diffu...
    S. Chowdhury, W.R. Boyette, W.L. Roberts
    Journal of Aerosol Science 106, 56-67, (2017)
  • Narrow band flame emission from dieseline and diesel spray combustion in a constant volume combustion chamber
    Z. Wu, W. Jing, W. Zhang, W. L. Roberts, T. Fang
    Fuel 185, pp. 829-846, (2016)
  • Soot particle size measurements in ethylene diffusion flames at elevated pressures
    S.A. Steinmetz, T. Fang, W.L. Roberts
    Combustion and Flame 169, 85-93, (2016)
  • Laminar Burning Velocities of Fuels for Advanced Combustion Engines (FACE) Gasoline and Gasoline Surrogates with an...
    O.A. Mannaa, M.S. Mansour, W.L. Roberts, S.H. Chung
    Combustion Science and Technology 188 (4-5), 692-706, (2016) 


  • ​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