Elizabeth M. Fisher

Associate Professor
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Professor Fisher served as president of the Yale chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society in her senior year, and was graduated summa cum laude in physics. She then worked at the Thermal Sciences Branch of the Solar Energy Research Institute in Golden, Colorado, for several years. In 1991 she joined the faculty and was named to a five-year Clare Boothe Luce Professorship. She received the ASEE St. Lawrence Section Outstanding Teacher Award in 2017, the Teetor Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1995 and the Dennis G. Shepherd Memorial Teaching Prize in 1997 and the Dorothy Swanson Teaching Award in 2012. She is a Fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, served as Associate Editor of Energy and Fuels in 2015, and is a member of the Combustion Institute, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Society of Engineering Education.

Research Interests

I use bench-scale experiments and numerical simulations to investigate the combustion chemistry, flow, and heat transfer processes in biomass energy systems and other practical systems. My focus is on understanding the chemical kinetic mechanisms relevant to the formation of desired products as well as pollutants. Applications include: biomass combustion in cookstoves; biomass pyrolysis to produce fuels, biochar, and heat; flame inhibition; combustion of practical liquid fuels including biodiesel and jet fuel; oxycombustion for carbon sequestration; incineration of hazardous wastes and chemical warfare agents.

Teaching Interests

I have taught Introduction to Mechanical Engineering, Thermodynamics, Combustion Engines and Fuel Cells, Fluids/Heat Transfer Laboratory, Aerospace Propulsion, and Combustion Processes. I encourage active learning, and have made use of problem-based learning in Introduction to Mechanical Engineering.

Selected Publications

  • Fisher, Elizabeth M., W. J. Pitz, H. J. Curran, C. K. Westbrook2000.“Detailed chemical kinetic mechanisms for combustion of oxygenated fuel.”Proceedings of the Combustion Institute281579-1586.
  • Zheng, X., Elizabeth M. Fisher, Frederick Gouldin, L. Zhu, J W Bozzelli2009.“Experimental and Computational Study of Diethyl Sulfide Pyrolysis and Mechanism.”Proceedings of the Combustion Institute32(1)469-476.
  • Fisher, Elizabeth M., C. Dupont, L. I. Darvell, J.-M Commandre, A. Saddawi, J. M. Jones, M. Grateau, T. Nocquet, S. Salvador2012.“Combustion and gasification characteristics of chars from torrefied and raw biomass.”Bioresource Technology119157-165.
  • Woolf, D., J. Lehmann, Elizabeth M. Fisher, L T Angenent2014.“Biofuels from pyrolysis in perspective: trade-offs between energy yields and soil-carbon additions..”Environmental Science & Technology48(11)6492-6499.
  • Shah, M H., L. Deng, H. Bennadji, Elizabeth M. Fisher2015.“Pyrolysis of Potassium-Doped Wood at the Centimeter and Submillimeter Scales.”Energy & Fuels29(11)7350-7357.

See all Publications

Selected Awards and Honors

  • James and Mary Tien Teaching Award (College of Engineering, Cornell University) 2018
  • ASME St. Lawrence Section Outstanding Teaching Award (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) 2018
  • John Swanson ’61 ME Teaching Award, in honor of his mother, Dorothy G. Swanson (College of Engineering, Cornell University) 2012
  • McManus Faculty Fellowship 2006
  • Dennis G. Shepherd Memorial Teaching Prize (Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) 1997
  • Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award (Society of Automotive Engineers) 1996
  • Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professorship 1991


  • B.S. (Physics (summa cum laude)), Yale University, 1982
  • M.S. (Engineering Science: Mechanical Engineering), University of California, Berkeley, 1987
  • Ph.D. (Engineering Science: Mechanical Engineering), University of California, Berkeley, 1990