Lydia Bourouiba

Affiliate Faculty
Phone: (617) 324-7745
Lab Phone: (617) 324-7745
room: 48-333
MIT address: 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
Administrative Assistant: Carol Burke
assistant phone: (617) 324-7780
assistant email:

Lydia Bourouiba

Affiliate Faculty


  • Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science at MIT


Lydia Bourouiba is a physical applied mathematician concentrating on geophysical problems of hydrodynamic turbulence and on the mathematical modeling of population dynamics and disease transmission. She joined the Department of Mathematics at MIT in January 2010 as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer. She previously worked at the Centre for Disease Modelling in Toronto, Canada on the modeling of influenza. Dr. Bourouiba completed her doctorate from McGill University studying rotating homogeneous turbulence theoretically and numerically. She is now an Assistant Professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT where she continues to focus on problems at the interface of fluid dynamics and disease transmission with the aim of elucidating the fundamental physical mechanisms shaping the epidemiology and disease transmission dynamics in human, animal and plant populations.


  • PhD, McGill University

selected awards/societies

  • Sigma Xi
  • Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor Chair at MIT


The Bourouiba Research Group uses a combination of theoretical  (applied mathematics, including differential equations, linear algebra, nonlinear dynamics, waves and stability) and experimental approaches (flow visualization, high speed imaging techniques, microscopy, image processing) to elucidate the fundamental physical mechanisms of transmission of nosocomial diseases, respiratory diseases, waterborne diseases, and foliar diseases where fluids are ubiquitous and to design and formulate new control strategies.

Pathogen-Fluid Interaction

  • Interfacial flows: pathogen-fluid interactions in bubbles, drops and films
  • Fluid fragmentation and droplet formation leading to air contamination
  • Turbulence and multiphase flows
  • Mixing, transport, and pathogen deposition and contamination
  • Hydrodynamic instabilities and waves
  • Viscoelastic and biological fluids

Health, Disease Transmission

  • Contact dynamics and pathogen transport
  • Nosocomial diseases, respiratory diseases, waterborne diseases, and foliar diseases
  • Disease transmission and contamination in indoor environments, including hospitals.

selected publications

T. Gilet and L. Bourouiba. “Fluid fragmentation shapes rain-induced foliar disease transmission.” Journal of the Royal Society Interface 12.104 (2015): 1092.

C. Browne, R. Smith, L. and Bourouiba. “From regional pulse vaccination to global disease eradication: the case of Poliomyelitis. Journal of Mathematical Biology 71 (2014): 215–53.

L. Bourouiba, E. Dehandschoewercker, and J. W. M. Bush. “Violent respiratory events: on coughing and sneezing.” Journal of Fluid Mechanics 745 (2014): 537-63

L. Bourouiba, D. L. Hu, and R. Levy. “Surface-tension phenomena in organismal biology.” Integrative and Comparative Biology 54 (2014): 955–58.

L. Bourouiba, J. Wu, S. Newman, J. Takekawa, T. Natdorj, N. Batbayar, C. M. Bishop, L. A., Hawkes, P. J. Butler, and M. Wikelski. “Spatial dynamics of Bar-headed geese migration in the context of H5N1.” Journal of the Royal Society Interface 7 (2010): 1627-39.

A full list of Dr. Bourouiba’s publications can be found on her website.