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Sunderland, Peter B.

Sunderland, Peter B.
Professor, Ph.D.
Director of Undergraduate Studies
3104E J.M. Patterson Building

Research Interests 

Combustion and fire protection, including soot formation and oxidation, laminar diffusion flames, premixed flames, microgravity combustion, hydrogen flames, vehicle fires, firefighter safety, and diagnostics development.


  • 2017 – Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dept. of Fire Protection Engineering; Affiliate Associate Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering - University of Maryland, College Park.
  • 2010 – 2017 Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dept. of Fire Protection Engineering; Affiliate Associate Professor, Dept. of Aerospace Engineering; Affiliate Associate Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park.
  • 2004 – 2010 Assistant Professor, Department of Fire Protection Engineering, and Affiliate Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park.
  • 1996 – 2004 Staff Scientist and Research Associate, National Center for Microgravity Research and National Research Council, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland.
  • 1991 –1995 Research Fellow and Research Assistant, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • 1988 – 1991 Senior Engineer, Northern Research and Engineering Division of Ingersoll-Rand, Woburn, MA.
  • 1985 – 1987 Engineer, Pratt and Whitney Division of United Technologies, East Hartford. 1981 – 1982 Co-Operative Engineer, Chicago Bridge and Iron Co., New Castle, Delaware.


  • 1995 Ph.D., Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • 1994 M.S., Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • 1986 M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  • 1983 B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca.


  • ENES 100, Introduction to Engineering Design, 3 credits.
  • ENFP 101, Hot Topics in Fire Protection Engineering, 1 credit.
  • ENFP 255, Fire Alarm and Special Hazards Design, 3 credits.
  • ENFP 300, Fire Protection Fluid Mechanics, 3 credits.
  • ENFP 310, Water-Based Fire Protection System Design, 3 credits.
  • ENFP 320,  Fire Assessment Methods and Laboratory, 4 credits.
  • ENFP 350, Professional Development Seminar, 1 credit.
  • ENFP 415, Fire Dynamics, 3 credits.
  • ENFP 630, Diffusion Flames and Burning Rate Theory, 3 credits.

Honors and Awards 

  • Poole and Kent Teaching Award for Senior Engineering Faculty, 2017.
  • ​Best Image, Fire Science Image Competition, IAFSS, 2014.
  • Best-Paper Award, Sixth International Seminar on Fire and Explosion Hazards, 2010.
  • Faculty Early Career Award, NSF, 2010.
  • Ralph H. Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award, SAE, 2008.
  • E. Robert Kent Junior Faculty Teaching Award, College of Engineering, University of Maryland, 2008.
  • Keystone Professor, The Clark School Academy of Distinguished Professors, University of Maryland, 2008.
  • Excellence in Oral Presentation, SAE World Congress, Detroit, 2007.
  • Best-Paper Award, Northern Ohio Section of AIAA, 2003.
  • Mentor of the Year, NASA Glenn Research Center, 1999.
  • Best-Paper Award, Combustion Institute Central States Meeting, 1996.

Professional Memberships 

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Associate Fellow.
  • American Society for Engineering Education, Member.
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Member.
  • Combustion Institute, Member.
  • International Association for Fire Safety Science, Member.
  • Salamander Fire Protection Engineering Honor Society, Honorary Member.
  • SAE International, Member.
  • Sigma Gamma Tau Aerospace Engineering Honor Society, Member.
  • Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Member.
  • Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Affiliate Member.
  • Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Member.

Related News 

Peter Sunderland weighs in on Baltimore restaurant fires
Interview published in the Baltimore Sun. August 28, 2018

FPE Well-Represented at 2018 International Combustion Symposium
Several faculty members and grad students traveled to Dublin to offer oral presentations on their research. August 22, 2018

Selena Chin Receives SFPE 2018 Student Scholar Award
Chin, a FPE Graduate Student, will give a presentation at the SFPE annual conference this fall. July 11, 2018

FPE Professor Peter Sunderland Designated PI on Upcoming NIST and NSF Projects
Grant money will be used in research aimed at developing wild-fire suppression methods, and cleaner, more efficient internal combustion engines. August 9, 2017

UMD displays leadership role at IAFSS Symposium
Multiple FPE researchers recognized at international fire conference in Sweden. June 21, 2017

UMD Experiments Launched into Orbit on SpaceX Capsule
Fire Protection Engineering research will further understanding of combustion and pollutants. June 6, 2017

Peter Sunderland Wins Poole and Kent Teaching Award for Senior Faculty
He will be recognized at the 2017 Clark School of Engineering Commencement on May 20. May 19, 2017

FPE Ph.D. Candidate Wins 2017 Outstanding Graduate Assistant Award
Akshit Markan will be honored at the UMD Graduate School Fellowship and Awards Celebration on May 11th. May 4, 2017

UMD Hosts the Premier Combustion Science Meeting in the U.S.
A record number of attendees made the 2017 meeting the most successful in its history. May 1, 2017

Two FPE Faculty Members Granted Tenure, Promotion
Drs. Peter Sunderland and Michael Gollner will be promoted, effective August 1. April 19, 2017

FPE student papers accepted at Combustion Symposium
5 Fire PhD students had their papers accepted into the 36th International Symposium on Combustion in Seoul.  October 26, 2016

FPE team wins 2nd place at ANSI-NIST Student Competition
Five Fire Students, advised by Professor Peter Sunderland, took second place at the ANSI-NIST Standards Simulation Student Competition this month. October 25, 2016

Paul Anderson Receives the James W. Dally Prize for Outstanding Instructional Support
Paul M. Anderson was recognized for his excellent contributions as Teaching Assistant for ENES 221 Dynamics and ENES 232 Thermodynamics. April 20, 2016

AHRI Grant Supports Study of Refrigerant Flammability
Drs. Peter Sunderland and Vivien Lecoustre lead Investigation of Energy Produced by Potential Ignition Sources in Residential Application. November 2, 2015

UMD to Host National Combustion Meeting
Trouvé chairs premier combustion science meeting. June 18, 2015

ASHRAE Grant Supports Study of Refrigerant Flammability
Sunderland, Lecoustre will lead the research team. April 10, 2015

Lund University FPE Students Visit Maryland
FPE@UMD hosts tours, presentations. August 28, 2014

Faculty members elected to leadership roles; research image wins award. April 10, 2014

Fire Protection Team wins IAFSS Award
FPE Research Team wins 11th IAFSS Symposium Best Fire Science Image Award February 21, 2014

FPE Research Featured on the Cover of Applied Optics
Guo, Castillo and Sunderland from Fire Protection Engineering author featured paper. November 21, 2013

Follett Named Undergraduate Studies Academic Advisor of the Year
Carli Follett will recieve the award in August 2013 for the 2012-2013 year August 2, 2013

Sunderland Discusses Natural Gas Explosions On ABC World News With Diane Sawyer
Fire protection engineering professor appears on national television. November 1, 2012

Marshall Spray Systems Research Earns Grants
Fire protection engineering professor and colleagues to quantify fire-spray interactions, form company. September 18, 2012

FPEs Bustamante Goes Zero-G
Michael Bustamante participates in micro-gravity testing June 7, 2012

Clark School Expert, Visualization Tool Demonstrate Crisis Communication
Peter Sunderland, Center for Advanced Transportation Technology assist National Academy of Engineering presentation at USA Science and Engineering Expo. May 3, 2012

FPE Wins Art Image Competition
Fire protection students and advisor awarded first place for their poster in Dayton, Ohio. April 30, 2012

Annual Pump Day in FPE
Fire Protection Hosted its annual Pump Day on April 13, 2012 April 16, 2012

FPE Team Submits Entry to Flame Challenge
Students, staff and faculty answer 'What is a Flame?' April 6, 2012

Fire Protection Faculty Appointed to ESS Board
Sunderland and Trouvé Appointed to ESS Executive Board December 13, 2011

Bustamante Wins Prestigious NASA Fellowship
Michael Bustamante selected as a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow July 14, 2011

FPE Shines at 10th Symposium of the IAFSS
Fire Protection hosted the 10th Symposium of the International Association of Fire Safety Science July 13, 2011

Fire Protection Mourns Undergraduate Student
John Sivert “Johnny” Brungot died unexpectedly in a fall at his home July 1, 2011

Is It Safe to Breathe Yet?
"Double-flame" research seeks to improve soot combustion, reduce pollutants. April 26, 2010

Sunderland Wins CAREER Award
Research aims to reduce pollution from soot oxidation. March 9, 2010

Peter B. Sunderland named Keystone Professor
Peter B. Sunderland, Assistant Professor, was selected to join Keystone: the Clark School Academy of Distinguished Professors effective July 1, 2008. July 10, 2008

Prof. Sunderland leads enhanced Department recruiting efforts
Peter Sunderland, an assistant professor in the department of fire protection engineering, has been making calls to undeclared engineering majors to raise awareness about his program. February 21, 2008

"Fire in Space"
Prof. Sunderland invites Astronaut to speak on Combustion Research in Space. October 12, 2006

Alumnus Receives Presenter Award
Jignesh D. Maun has received the 2006 Outstanding Student Presenter Award from the Combustion Institution Central States Section. July 26, 2006