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About Jessica Townsend

Areas of Interests: Nanofluids; turbine blade cooling for aircraft engines; renewable energy.
Dr. Townsend’s main area of research interest is in Nanofluids. Nanoparticle suspensions (or nanofluids) have been studied for many years, but only in the last 15 years has the potential been discovered for using nanofluids as highly effective coolants. Initial work showed that nanofluids (i.e. a solution of water with alumina nanoparticles) have much higher thermal conductivities than the base fluid alone (just water). Since then, further work has shown that the measurement techniques, and the size, shape and aggregation of the particles plays a much larger role in the perceived thermal conductivity enhancement, and some researchers have found no enhancement at all. In a joint project with Applied Physics Professor Rebecca Christianson, Dr. Townsend has developed measurement techniques for thermal properties of nanofluids and is currently looking at the effects of aggregation on thermal conductivity enhancement.
Dr. Townsend’s other research interests include engineering education, renewable energy, experimental methods in heat transfer and fluid mechanics, and turbine blade cooling.


Present Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Olin College of Engineering

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Honors and Awards

  • AIAA Foundation Wilbur and Orville Wright Graduate Research Award
  • AIAA Foundation Gordon C. Oates Air Breathing Propulsion Graduate Award
  • American Association of University Women Engineering Dissertation Fellowship


  • Modeling and Simulation of the Physical World
  • Thermodynamics
  • Transport Phenomena

Articles (8)