William L. Roberts, Ph.D.


Director of Clean Combustion Research Center | Professor of Mechanical Engineering



Building 5, Level 4, Seaside area, Room No. 4220

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

  • 2014- Present: Director, Clean Combustion Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, KSA.
  • 2012-Present: Professor, Mechanical Engineering program, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, KSA.
  • 1994-2013: Assist., Assoc., and Professor, Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC .
  • 2001-2013: Director, Applied Energy Research Laboratory, NC State University.
  • 1992-1994: Research Engineer, Lockheed Engineering and Sciences Co, NASA Langley Program Office, Hampton, VA
  • 1989-1991: Engineer, Environmental Management Sciences, Brighton MI
  • 1987-1989: Aerospace Engineer, Analytical Services (ANSER), Co, Arlington, VA  

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

  • Mechanical Engineering (KAUST), Clean Combustion Research Center (KAUST)
  • NC State University, Raleigh, NC