Philip Li-Fan Liu, Ph.D., Dist.M.ASCE, Class of 1912 Professor in Engineering and director of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University, was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for his coastal engineering research, education, computer modeling, and leadership for tsunami and wave damage.
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 the fundamental understanding of wave processes and to the applicability of his research to practical engineering problems.
His eminence in the field of nonlinear waves was recognized by his co-option to both 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 is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including ASCE’s Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize (1978), John G. Maffatt & Frank N. Nichol Harbor and Coastal Engineering Award (1997), and the International Coastal Engineering Award (2004).
A graduate of the National Taiwan University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, his master’s and ScD degree in civil engineering are from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; he also received the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award (2009) and the J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship (1980).