Paul Steen

Paul H. Steen

Maxwell M. Upson Professor Of Engineering
Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
346 Olin Hall


Steen Group Website

Dr. Paul H. Steen is a Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University, with field affiliations in Applied Mathematics, Theoretical and Applied Mechanics and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He holds the Maxwell M. Upson Chair in Engineering.

His expertise is in the dynamical stability of fluid systems. Recent focus has been on systems where the capillary action of surface tension influences the shape of deformable liquid/gas interfaces as with constrained drops, bridges, beads and rivulets. Steen invented a switchable adhesion device wherein droplets are purposely reconfigured to grab and release using capillary action. He is also an expert in planar-flow spin casting, a process by which molten metals are rapidly solidified into thin sheets, of importance in the manufacturing of new metallic glassy materials for application in ultra-efficient solid-state energy conversion devices. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society (1996) and American Institute of Chemical Engineers (2013). Presently, he is an Associate Editor of the Nature journal Microgravity. From 2000-2012, he served as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics. He has co-edited "A Gallery of Fluid Motion," a DFD project published by Cambridge University Press. He has delivered keynote talks at Gordon Conferences, APS, APS/DfD, AIChE and ACS meetings. He has coauthored many papers, has edited books and holds a number of patents.

Prior to coming to Cornell, Steen received his PhD from The Johns Hopkins University in 1981 and held a post-doctoral position in Chemical Engineering at Stanford University, after having completed undergraduate degrees in Engineering and English Literature at Brown University. At Cornell, he has served as Director of Graduate Studies for Chemical Engineering. He was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, enabling visits to research institutions in Karlsruhe and Goettingen, Germany. He has been a Senior Guest Scientist at the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, a Visiting Scientist with the Physics of Fluids group at the University of Twente, Netherlands and has visited several times the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.

Research Interests

Stability of liquid/gas interfaces Flows driven by capillary action Fluid dynamics of planar flow spin casting Heat flow in planar flow casting Electro-osmotically controlled shape-change Switchable electronics and capillary adhesion devices

Teaching Interests

CHEME 7510: Advanced Math Methods in Chemical Engineering

CHEME 7530: Stability, Bifurcation and Continuation

CHEME 6610: Air Pollution Control

CHEME 4320: Unit Operations

Service Interests

Associate Editor, Nature Publishing Group 'Microgravity'

Cornell University: University Appeals Panel

CBE Department: Awards committee, Chair

Selected Publications

  • Mattson, JW, EA Theisen, and PH Steen, “Rapid Solidification Forming of Glassy and Crystalline Ribbons by Planar Flow Casting,” Chem. Eng. Sci. 2018
  • Bostwick, JB and PH Steen, “Static rivulet instabilities: varicose and sinuous modes,” J. Fluid Mech., 2018, 837, 819-838
  • Chang, CT, S Daniel and PH Steen, “Footprint geometry and Sessile Drop Resonance,” Phys. Rev. E. 2017.
  • Bostwick, JB, and PH Steen, “Dynamics of sessile drops. Part 3. Theory of forced oscillations.”
  • Bostwick, J. B. and P. H. Steen, “Liquid-bridge shape stability by energy bounding.” IMA Journal of Applied Mathematics (2015) doi:

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Fellow, American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) 2013
  • Fellow, American Physical Society (APS) 1996
  • Alexander von Humboldt Fellow (1990, 1996, 2011) (MPI DSO Goettingen, Germany) 2011
  • Maxwell M. Upson Professor in Engineering, endowed chair election (Cornell University) 2008
  • Henry Marion Howe Medal (ASM International) 2007


  • B.Sc. (Engineering), Brown University, 1975
  • A.B. (English Literature), Brown University, 1975
  • Ph.D. (Fluid Dynamics), Johns Hopkins University, 1981


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