FacultyResearch StaffGraduate Students | Visitors | Emeritus Faculty | Recent Members | Distinguished Visitors


Forman WilliamsProf. Forman A. Williams

Office: EBU II Rm. 555

Phone: (858) 534-5492



Professor Williams' studies range from investigations into the fundamental nature of energy and combustion to practical applications in energy conservation and production, as well as pollution control. Among other things, he looks at the structure of flames in combustion energy research to ensure optimal functionality, conducting small-scale laminar combustion experiments in which all points of the combustion front move at an identical velocity. Williams' work in combustion has led to a greater understanding of pollutants. He has focused on the mechanisms of production of NOx emissions (oxides of nitrogen), which can be used to decrease pollution from automobiles. Williams has done fundamental combustion experiments on the space shuttle to look at the effects of gravity or microgravity on flames. By studying droplet and spray combustion and looking at the use of detonations for propulsion, more efficient rocket engines have been created. Most recently, Williams has been looking at how to make automobile engines more efficient with a homogeneous charge compression ignition engine (HCCI), instead of a traditional spark ignition engine. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Robert CattolicaProf. Robert J. Cattolica 

Office: EBU II Rm. 560

Phone: (858) 534-2433



Professor Cattolica develops and employs diagnostic tools that are leading to a better understanding of the mechanics of combustion. He is extending the application of spectroscopic diagnostics in combustion, reacting flows, and gas dynamics. His research includes: spectroscopic measurements of temperature and species concentration in strained flames; plasma temperature measurements in semiconductor plasma reactors (where ions are used etch circuit features); and droplet size and velocity characteristics of pulsed fuel injectors for propulsion applications. He is currently developing laser techniques to accurately measure the chemical structure of flames including the formation of nitric oxide, a principal combustion emission. Cattolica's measurements are helping Jacobs School colleagues Kalyanansundaram Seshadri and Forman A. Williams validate the "San Diego Mechanism," a library of chemical kinetic mechanisms used to model the physical and chemical characteristics of the combustion of common fuels including the prediction of pollutant formation. The mechanism is expected to be useful for engine studies and in other areas where computerized simulations should account for the effects of varying fuel mixtures. Cattolica can provide critical perspective on matters of import to both environmental and energy policy including: the questionable use of oxygenates (ethanol and MTBE) as gasoline additives, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, clean-engine technology, and renewable energy from biomass. 


Kalyanasundaram Seshadri

Prof. Kalyanasundaram Seshadri

Office: EBU II Rm. 558

Phone: (858) 534-4876 



Professor Seshadri is an expert in combustion. He is interested in the chemical inhibition of flames, the combustion of diesel fuels and solid propellants, the mechanisms involved in the formation of pollutants, and the destruction of toxic compounds. He has helped demonstrate the usefulness of asymptotic analysis in the science of combustion. Asymptotic analysis employs the mathematical concept of a limit to efficiently identify critical boundaries, reactions, or other factors dominant in complex non-linear natural phenomena. In 1998, Seshadri applied an asymptotic analysis that succeeded in singling out the most critical interaction among hundreds ensuing when the superior industrial fire suppressant Halon 1301 extinguishes a flame. Halon 1301 is widely used by the military to quench fires in planes. But the chemical, also known as bromotrifluoromethane or CF3Br is no longer manufactured because it damages the Earth's protective ozone layer. Because Seshadri implicated bromine as critical to Halon 1301's fire-suppressing efficiency, and since bromine is the element in Halon 1301 that destroys ozone, the work signaled that the search for alternatives should switch from naturally occurring elements toward development of non-toxic synthetic substances.

Antonio Sanchez

Prof. Antonio Sanchez

Office: EBU II Rm. 554

Phone: (858) 822-3790 



Prof. Sanchez's research falls within the general field of chemically reacting flows, including research topics related to clean combustion technologies, aerospace propulsion devices, and safety hazards in the built environment. He is interested in fundamental problems that involve the interplay of fluid mechanics, transport processes, and chemical reactions, in particular those emerging in practical combustion systems. His research approach takes advantage of the disparity of the length and time scales encountered in these complex problems to simplify the solutions, often by application of asymptotic methods that help to identify simpler sub-problems and serve to extract the fundamental underlying physics. His work has covered a large number of different combustion and fluid-mechanical problems, including a wide range of reactive phenomena of technological importance such as spontaneous and forced ignition, deflagrations, detonations, diffusion flames, partially premixed combustion, and spray combustion.

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Research Staff

Dr. Reinhard Seiser

Office: West Biofuels Plant



Dr. Reinhard Seiser conducts research on gasification and combustion of biofuels at the Woodland Biomass Research Center. He also sets up diagnostic systems and instruments for monitoring combustion, gasification, and synthesis reactions at the center. After his graduation, Dr. Seiser joined UCSD as a Postgraduate Researcher and in 2001 as Assistant Project Scientist. During this time he worked on various combustion problems including liquid, gaseous fuels, and solid and gaseous extinguishing agents. He designed several experimental setups for measuring ignition, extinction, and pollutant species in laminar flames. Dr. Seiser's contributions to the scientific community include numerous experimental data on premixed and non-premixed flames, which have been used to improve chemical-kinetic models of hydrocarbon fuels. Further, the interaction of flow and chemistry has been a centerpiece of his research, and his publications have explained the influence of strain on ignition and partially premixing on extinction of flames.


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Postdoctoral Researchers

Ulrich Niemann

Office: EBU II Rm. B12

Phone: (858) 534 - 6505


List of Publications

Ulrich joined the Combustion Group as a staff researcher, managing the laboratory and leading the experimental research for several years. He has been working on his PhD studying combustion under Professor K. Seshadri and F. A. Williams. His research focuses on the experimental and numerical investigation of chemically reacting flows, and the influence of pressure on chemical kinetics and molecular transport. Ulrich designs, builds and operates both ambient pressure and high pressure burners in order to develop chemical kinetic mechanisms.


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Recent Members

Michael Gollner



Michael is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland at the Department of Fire Protection Engineering. He received his PhD studying combustion under Professor Forman Williams. His research interests focus on fire safety applications for both the built environment and wildland fires. Research topics have included flame spread through discrete media, flame spread over inclined fuels, and flammability classification for warehouse applications.



Ryan Gehmlich


Since 2015, Ryan has been a Postdoctoral Appointee at the Combustion Research Facility of Sandia National Laboratories. His research is focused on quantifying the impacts of emerging bio-derived and renewable fuel blends on processes occurring within the combustion chamber in a heavy-duty diesel engine. An optically accessible engine enables laser-based and advanced high-speed imaging diagnostics, which can be used to gain a fundamental understanding of fuel effects on detailed in-cylinder mixing and combustion processes that govern engine efficiency and emissions.



Xinyan Huang

Office: EBU II Rm. 566


Xinyan is a PhD student at Imperial College and received his M.S. under Prof. Forman Williams. He researched wire ignition through collaboration with Prof. Yuji Nakamura of Hokkaido University, Japan. He also continues to work with Michael Gollner on flame spread over inclined fuels.


Tei Newman-Lehman


As an electromechanical development engineer, Tei led the design, development and validation of several fully automated pre-mixed and non-premixed combustion systems. These devices were used to perform experimental research on a wide variety of liquid and gaseous fuels as well as an assortment of mixed gas oxidizers. Tei is now a development engineer at Synthetic Genomics



Christian Di Norscia


Christian conducted his experimental and numerical research under the supervision of Professor K. Seshadri on premixed flames, non-premixed flames, and partially premixed flames of liquid and gaseous fuels focusing on critical conditions of extinction and auto-ignition and on flame structure. He is currently working as Combustion Engineer in the Combustion Engineering Department at Catepillar / Solar Turbines Inc.





Kevin Mandich

Kevin Mandich is a Data Scientist at Agari since April 2015



Vaishali Amin

Vaishali Amin works for Northrop Grumman



Dr. Yousef Bahadori

Office: EBU II Rm. 562

Phone: (858) 534-6617


Prof. Bahadori is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering teaching courses in the broader thermal-fluid sciences.




Dr. Priyank Saxena


Dr. Priyank Saxena completed his Ph.D. studying combustion theory in 2007 from UC San Diego under Prof. Williams. He is still actively engaged in research with the group, primarily in development and maintenance of the San Diego Mechanism and other reduced chemical mechanisms. He is currently a Principal Engineer in the Combustion Engineering Department at Catepillar / Solar Turbines.




Dr. Alexander Telengator

Office: EBU II Rm. 562
Phone: (858) 534-6617

Dr. Alexander Telengator recieved his PhD. from UC San Diego under Prof. Williams. He is still actively engaged in research with the group, primarily in development and mainteance of the San Diego Mechanism and other reduced chemical mechanisms. He is currently with General Atomics.




Stanford Penner

Prof. Stanford S. Penner

Stanford S. Penner worked during World War II at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory on solid rocket propulsion systems. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1946. Before coming to UCSD in 1964 as founding chair of UCSD's first engineering department, Penner served as Research Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1946-50), professor of jet propulsion at the California Institute of Technology (1950-62) and Director of the Research and Engineering Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, DC (1962-64). At UCSD, he has also held the positions of vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, director of the Institute for Pure and Applied Physical Sciences, and director of the Energy Center (later named the Center for Energy and Combustion Research). Penner was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics. He was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of seven learned societies. He has received numerous national and international awards and honorary degrees include the Distinguished Associate Award of the U.S. Department of Energy and the Edward Teller Award for The Defense of Freedom. Penner was the founding editor of The Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, of Energy-The International Journal and of the (classified) Journal of Defense Research.


Emeritus Faculty

Paul Libby

Prof. Paul A. Libby (Prof. Emeritus)

Office: EBU II Rm. 557

Phone: (858) 534-3168

During the past thirty years the main research interest of Professor Libby has pertained to the theoretical analysis of laminar and turbulent flows, especially flows with relatively simple geometries and with associated experimental data. This research has resulted in roughly 230 journal articles. The following are some of the topics covered in these articles: a theory of intermittent turbulence such as occurs at the outer edges of turbulent jets, wakes and boundary layers; a theory of the transient combustion of graphite spheres injected into a hot oxidizing ambient; an extension of hot wire anemometry in terms of the development of a hot-wire probe for measuring time resolved velocities and helium concentration in turbulent helium-air mixtures; a theory and associated experiments demonstrating countergradient and non-gradient transport in premixed turbulent flames; and the application of asymptotic methods in various turbulent flows. With Professor Forman Williams he has edited and written chapters in two monographs concerning turbulent combustion and has written a textbook on turbulence.


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Distinguished Visitors

Gerhad Adomeit
Demetrio Bastos-Netto
Bob Bilger
Ken Bray
Tai-yue Cao
Michel Champion
Harsha Chelliah
Michal Cialkowski
Paul Clavin
Eli Dabora
Pedro Garcia-Ybarr
Toshisuke Hirano
Johan Hustad
John Le
Yi-min Li
Amable Linan
Tai-kang Liu
Akira Matsushita
Tohru Mitani
Yuji Nakamura
Takashi Niioka
Tony Oppenheim
Norbert Peters
Josef Rom
Junichi Sato
Mitch Smooke
Cesar Trevino
Shunichi Tsugé
Pierre Van Tiggelen
Carlos Vasques-Espi
Sun Yi
RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciai, Brasil
University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Cambridge University, Cambridge, England
Changsha Institute of Technology, Changsha, China
ENSMA,Poitiers, France
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
Institute for Heat Eng. and Combustion, Poland
Université Aix Marseilles, Marseilles, France
University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia, Spain
University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Norwegian Institute of Technology, Trondheim, Norway
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
University of Aeronautics and Astronuatics, Beijing, China
Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid, Spain
Chung Shan Inst. of Science and Tech., Taiwan, China
Japanese Patent Office, Tokyo, Japan
Kakuda Research Center, Natl Aerospace Lab, Japan
Hokkaido University, Japan
Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
University of California, Berkeley
RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
IHI Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Facultad de Ingenieria, UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico
University of Tsukaba, Tsukaba, Japan
Universite Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Universidad Politecnica, Madrid, Spain
Energy Conservation Technology Center, Harbin, China

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