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Ph.D., M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, June 1972

Dipl.-Ing., Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Munich, Germany, June 1968



Professor Modest’s research interests cover the two major areas of Radiative Heat Transfer and Laser Machining of Ceramics.

In thermal radiation he has carried out various experimental investigations to measure spectral surface properties of solids, absorption coefficients of liquids, and absorption coefficients of molecular gases; presently, the spectral absorption coefficients of glasses and transmissivities of combustion gases are being measured at high temperatures. His theoretical contributions include development of approximate and Monte Carlo methods to deal with multi-dimensional, spectral, and scattering effects. Present work centers on nongray spectral modeling, as well as Monte Carlo modeling of turbulence–radiation interactions in flames. His 1993 textbook on Radiative Heat Transfer is widely used across the world, and its third edition appeared in 2013.

In the laser machining of ceramics arena, Dr. Modest’s group has done fundamental experimental work and has generated various theoretical models. Experimentally, he has studied the fundamental material removal mechanisms (through SEM, emission spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, Auger spectroscopy, high-speed microscope photography, X-ray diffraction, etc.), measured relevant material properties (thermal diffusivity, high-temperature absorptance, heat of ablation/decomposition), and recently investigated the radiative properties of the plume/plasma above the laser-interaction zone as well as thermal stress development and minimization during the machining process. The theoretical models range from approximate one-dimensional to fully three-dimensional, to predict the laser drilling, scribing, cutting and shaping processes. In addition, the models were extended to incorporate effects of elastic and plastic thermal stresses occurring during the process. Presently, Dr. Modest is establishing a model of laser drilling with femtosecond laser pulses in metals and semiconductors.



2017-date     Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, University of California Merced and Pennsylvania State University

2009-2017    Shaffer and Betty Lou George Professor of Engineering and (since 2015) Distinguished Professor, School of Engineering, University of California, Merced

1987-2009         Professor (until 2007) and Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.

1980-1986         Associate Professor, (until 1984) and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Ca.

1975-1980         Assistant Professor (until 1977) and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.

1974-1975         Lecturer in Engineering, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, Ca.

1972-1974          Postdoctoral Research Associate of the National Research Council at NASA-Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas



2001 Alstom Power–ABB Lummus, New Jersey; Radiation Modeling in Large-Scale Reactors

2001 Accreditation Board for Fraunhofer Laser Center, University of Dresden, Germany

2001 CFDRC Research Corporation, Huntsville, AL; Radiation k-Distributions for CFD Codes

1985-1987 S-TRON, Belmont, California; Thermal Modeling of Human

Body Heat Losses

1980-1984 General Electric, Schenectady, New York; Thermal

Radiation in Gas Turbines

1979 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority;

Feasibility Study on Birk-Cycle Rotary Engines

1978 City of Troy, New York; Energy Conservation Studies

1978 Dept. of Housing and Urban Development; Feasibility Studies

for Large Scale Solar Hot Water Heaters

1976 TRW, Dallas, Texas, Space Shuttle Radiator

1975-1976 General Electric, Schenectady, New York; Geothermal Cycle


1975 Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, Berkeley, California Geothermal Energy



Fellow American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Member ASME Heat Transfer Division

K6 Committee on Heat Transfer in Energy Systems,

(Vice Chairman, 1992–1995, Chairman, 1998–2001)

General Papers Committee (Chairman 1992–1993)

Associate Fellow American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

AIAA Thermophysics Committee

Member Laser Institute of America

Committee on Materials Processing

Editorial Board, Journal of Laser Applications

Associate Editor Journal of Heat Transfer (Associate Technical Editor, 1993–1996

Special Projects Editor, 1997–2000)

Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, 2005–2011



First in Graduating Class 1968 (“Summa Cum Laude”)

Postdoctoral Fellowship of the National Research Council

Sigma Xi

Fellow— American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1988)

Who’s Who in the East

Who’s Who in Science and Engineering

Who’s Who in the World

Who’s Who in America

Who’s Who in American Education

PSES Outstanding Research Award (2000)

PSES Premier Research Award (2003)

Honorary Guest Professor, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China (2003–2005)

Associate Fellow — American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (2005)

ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award (2005)

Radiative Transfer V: Fifth International Symposium on Radiative Transfer, [Meeting dedicated to Modest

(USA), Dombrowski (Russia) and Charette (Canada)], Bodrum, Turkey, June, 2007

Humboldt Research Award (2007)

Appointment to University Distinguished Professor (2007)

AIAA Thermophysics Award (2008)

Symposium in honor of M. Modest’s 65th Birthday, ASME Heat Transfer Meeting, San Francisco (2009)



Undergraduate Courses:

  • Computing Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Heat Transfer
  • Engineering Mathematics
  • Higher Engineering Mathematics
  • Thermodynamics I and II
  • Engineering Laboratory
  • Solar Energy Devices

Graduate Courses:

  • Radiation Heat Transfer
  • Radiation in Participating Media
  • Conduction Heat Transfer
  • Convection Heat Transfer
  • Engineering Analytical Methods

Professional Engineer Degree Review:

  • Section on Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer