Jessica Townsend

she / her / hers

Professor of Engineering


Jessica Townsend, Ph.D.


Milas Hall 259




  • Ph.D., Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT
  • M.S., Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, University of California, Davis
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


  • Curriculum Innovation
  • Engineering Education
  • Thermal Fluids
  • Propulsion

Dr. Jessica Townsend is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, previously serving as the Interim Academic Vice President for External Engagement at Olin College. Since joining the Olin College faculty in 2004, Dr. Townsend has worked as a facilitator and consultant with universities and professional organizations looking to improve engineering student engagement. She currently oversees institutional-level strategy for Olin’s external educational change mission and has contributed to the development of innovative pedagogies, courses, and curricula at Olin College. Her technical area of interest is experimental thermal-fluids and she worked for many years on the development and characterization of nanofluids (colloidal suspensions of nanoparticles), mainly for thermal management applications. Dr. Townsend has industry experience in both air-breathing propulsion, as a gas turbine performance engineer at Hamilton Sundstrand Power Systems, and in rocket propulsion, as a visiting engineer at Blue Origin, a commercial spaceflight company based in Seattle, WA.

Select Publications

Townsend, J., Christianson, R., “Nanofluid Properties and their Effects on Convective Heat Transfer of Electronics Cooling Systems,” Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications, 1, p. 031006, 2010.

Buongiorno, J., Venerus, D., Prabhat, N., McKrell, T., Tolmachev, Y.V., Townsend, J., Christianson, R., and others, “A Benchmark Study on the Thermal Conductivity of Nanofluids,” Journal of Applied Physics, 106, 094312, 2009.

Townsend, J., Dillon, A., Sequiera, S., “Student-Centered Learning and Metacognitive Strategies in Engineering Thermal-Fluid Courses,” Proceedings of the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting 2008, January 6 – 9, 2008, Reno, Nevada.