Dr. Chen is an internationally known scholar in transport phenomena in multiphase systems, and a recognized pioneer in boiling and heat transfer. His 1966 paper Correlation for Boiling Heat Transfer to Saturated Fluids in Convective Flow, named in 2003 as a Classic Paper by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), developed the "Chen Method" of predicting the rate at which heat must be transfered to liquid to make it boil. The method has become the standard for designing vapor-liquid boiling systems used in the chemical, power, refrigeration, petroleum, nuclear and gas industries. It has been cited hundreds of times in technical articles and textbooks. Since that early discovery, Chen continued to make seminal contributions to various aspects of heat transfer science and technology.
Professor Chen taught undergraduate and graduate courses in chemical engineering and mechanical engineering over some four decades at Lehigh. During this time, he also served Lehigh as dean of engineering (1999-2001) and chair of chemical engineering (1983-1989).
Over his career, he published more than 200 technical articles and won 18 major national or international research awards. Among Dr. Chen’s honors are the Melville Medal for archival literature and the Classic Paper Award from ASME, and the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award and the Max Planck Research Prize from Federal Republic of Germany. In late 2012, he was the inaugural recipient of the World Scientific Award in Boiling and Condensing Heat Transfer, for lifetime contributions to the fundamental understanding of boiling and condensing phenomenon, and for his ability to translate that understanding into better engineering practice.
As recently as November 2013, he served as a plenary speaker at the Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and took part in an AIChE video interview with other plenary speakers regarding career choices for young chemical engineers.
Dr. Chen was a fellow and past president of AIChE, as well as a fellow of the ASME and a member of the American Chemical Society and of the American Association for Advancement of Science.
Professor Chen is survived by his spouse, Kathy, and several extended family members.
A memorial service will be held at 10 am on Saturday, February 8 at the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center St, Bethlehem, PA, followed by a lunch reception. If you are able to attend at the reception, the family kindly asks that you RSVP by January 30th to firstname.lastname@example.org, and include the number of people who will be attending. In lieu of flowers, please see the Department of Chemical Engineering Web site regarding donations to the John C. Chen Chemical Engineering Prize Fund.
- Lehigh News: In memoriam: John C. Chen, former dean of engineering
- Chemical Engineering: Remembering Professor John C. Chen, 79
- Video: Professor Chen interviews leading engineers at Nov. 213 AIChE meeting (courtesy AIChE/YouTube)
- Photos: Professor Chen delivers plenary speech to the 2013 AIChE Annual Meeting (courtesy AIChE/Flickr)
- Lehigh University News Center: John Chen receives lifetime award for heat transfer work (Sep. 2012)
- Lehigh University News Center: Chen awarded highest international prize (October 2002)
- Faculty Profile: John C. Chen