Ronald L. Dougherty

Ronald Dougherty
  • Professor
  • Ph.D.

Contact Info


Dr. Dougherty joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at KU in 1999. He was previously on the faculty at Oklahoma State (1985 – 1999), and worked in industry at Pratt & Whitney (1978 – 1982) and Terra Tek (1982 – 1985). He served as Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department for 13 years, from 1999 to 2012. Dr. Dougherty’s areas of research include laser diagnostics, particulate characterization, two-phase fluid flow and heat transfer, power plant thermal modeling, improvement of pumping systems, boiling, and forensic blood spatter. He has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Grundfos Pump Company, Purolator Products, and other industries as well as state agencies. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles and has produced over 70 conference papers and reports.

Dr. Dougherty is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Associate Fellow), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, and Sigma Xi. He was an Erkine Fellow at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand in 2009. He has served for over a decade as an Associate Editor for the AIAA Journal of Thermophysics and Heat Transfer, and is a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Oklahoma. He has served on a wide range of committees and has held positions as an officer in various professional and technical societies including ASME, AIAA, and Sigma Xi.


Radiative Heat Transfer, Two-Phase Heat Transfer, Thermal Fluid Sciences, Laser Scattering, Dynamic Light Scattering

Current and Recent Research

Radiative Transfer including Polarization Effects

From recent theoretical and experimental studies, it appears possible to “probe” fluid/particle suspensions with polarized light in order to characterize the particles in suspension. There are significant differences in the signals exiting the suspension, depending upon the type of polarized light used. In particular, the behavior of linearly polarized [laser] light as opposed to that of circularly polarized [laser] light is extremely interesting, and is the current area of interest in this research.

Dynamic Light Scattering

Laser light scattering from very "thin" fluid/particle suspensions can be used to determine the size of the particles suspended in the fluid and the viscosity of the fluid. Research is underway to extend this capability from "thin" suspensions to very dense suspensions - wherein the particles may occupy 2% - 10% of the total suspension volume. Both theoretical and experimental aspects of the problem are being addressed from two points-of-view: directly “handling” the multiple scattering in dense suspensions, and suppressing the multiple scattering to sift out the single scattering signals. In addition, both stagnant and flowing fluid/particle suspensions are being studied.

Two-Phase Heat Transfer in Oil and Gas Pipelines

This project involves the examination of open literature heat transfer coefficient correlations; the determination of important parameters affecting the heat transfer coefficient; and the improvement of those correlations. Project application is to the flow of multi-component multiphase fluid flow in pipes with orientations ranging from horizontal to vertical, considering laminar and turbulent flow regimes, and considering the various flow patterns that may arise in such flow situations.

Laser Doppler Velocimetry Applied to Filtration

This project is concerned with the use of an LDV system to determine the local characteristics of automotive filters. The LDV system allows for the non-intrusive study of particle laden air flow fields, and the very small size of the LDV probe volume makes it possible to obtain local data upstream and downstream of a filter, yielding local filtration efficiency results. These results have been compared to the theoretical predictions of other researchers in automotive air filtration.

Radiative Transfer including Reflection/Refraction Effects

When electromagnetic energy passes from one material to another (eg. air to water), the light waves are reflected and refracted. Depending upon the relative refractive index, the angle of incidence, material absorption and scattering characteristics, and material thickness, the change in the light wave intensity leaving the material can be significant. This work is directed toward computing those effects, comparing to measurements, and applying the results to a variety of semi-transparent material interfaces, such as those for air-water interfaces in solar ponds and larger bodies of water.

Radiative Transfer within Layered Materials

This research is studying, experimentally and analytically, the effects of layering fluids or layering particles suspended within those fluids upon a laser beam propagating through and reflected within the layers. The purpose is to explore various combinations of fluids and particles which could effectively trap the radiation within the material, increasing absorption. Application is directed toward better understanding of solar ponds and improvement of their efficiency.