Philip L.-F. Liu

Philip L.-F. Liu

Fellow: Awarded 1980
Field of Study: Applied Mathematics

Competition: US & Canada

Education: Cornell University

Philip L.-F. Liu is the Class of 1912 Professor at Cornell University and is affiliated with the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), the Center of Applied Mathematics, and the field of Computational Sciences. Currently he is also the holder of the Kwoh-Ting Lee Chair Professorship at the National Central University, Taiwan, where he is affiliated with the Institute of Hydrological and Oceanic Sciences.

After graduating with a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from National Taiwan University in 1968, Liu studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a S.M. degree in Civil Engineering in 1971 and a ScD. degree in 1974. He joined the Cornell faculty as an Assistant Professor in the School of CEE in 1974 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1979 and Full Professor in 1983. He served as the Associate Director of the School in 1985–1986 and as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies of Engineering College in 1986–1987. Liu has been the Director of the School of CEE since July 1, 2009.

Liu is an internationally recognized, frontline researcher in the fields of water wave theory, tsunami dynamics, wave-breaking processes, sediment transport, and the interaction of waves with structures. Since the 1990s, he has pioneered the development of a unified mathematical model of wave behavior that covers a wide range of nonlinearity and frequency dispersion. The advances he has achieved have resulted, for the first time, in physically based mathematical models and efficient computational procedures that produce accurate predictions of wave fields over complex bathymetry as well as in the vicinity of coastal structures. His reputation rests on the outstanding contributions he has made to fundamental understanding of wave processes and to the applicability of his research to practical engineering problems. Liu’s research has yielded practical results including those obtained by his COMCOT (Cornell Multi-grid Coupled Tsunami) and COBRAS (Cornell Breaking Waves and Structures) models, which have been used around the world as a research and engineering tools to study tsunami propagation and inundation, and evaluate breakwater designs.

His eminence in the field of nonlinear waves was recognized by his co-option to the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Task Force formed to assess the causes and consequences of the 2004 Asian tsunami and to the National Research Council (NRC) Committee to review the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR) Program.

Liu has co-authored one book and co-edited more than ten books. His more than 200 archival papers have received over 4,600 citations. Liu is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a distinguished member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In addition to his Guggenheim Fellowship, he has received many academic awards, including the prestigious ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize (1978), the ASCE John G. Maffatt & Frank N. Nichol Harbor and Coastal Engineering Award (1997), the International Coastal Engineering Award ASCE (2004), and the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award (2009).


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