In memoriam: Professor Christodoulos A. Floudas (1959–2016)
Professor Christodoulos Achilleus (Chris) Floudas left us for his Final Journey on a sunny afternoon of August 14th 2016. The world of process systems engineering, chemical engineering, and optimization was shocked—and will never be quite the same.
Chris was born on August 31st, 1959 in Ioannina, in the north-west mountainous part of Greece called Epirus; in 1977, he moved to the city of Thessaloniki, the capital of Greek Macedonia, where he earned his first degree in 1982 in chemical engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. During his undergraduate years in Thessaloniki he met his lovely wife [-to-be at the time] Fotini. In the summer of 1981, he moved to the US—he completed his Ph.D. in 1985 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania working with Professor Ignacio Grossmann, after which in early 1986 he joined Princeton University to start his academic career as a young assistant professor.
At Princeton, Chris was soon promoted to Associate Professor in 1991 and to Professor in 1994—where he became the Stephen C. Macaleer (class of)’63 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and Professor of Chemical Engineering. He was also in the faculty in the Center for Quantitative Biology at the Lewis-Sigler Institute, and Associated Faculty in the Program of Computational and in Applied Mathematics, and in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering. In 2015, he moved to Texas A&M University to become the Erle Nye (class of)’59 Chair Professor for Engineering Excellence in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering—and the director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute.
Chris was indisputably one of the very best minds of his generation—the finest Ambassador of the ‘systems thinking’ philosophy, vision and practise. With his extraordinary talent and enthusiasm, and his endless number of seminal and unique contributions, he substantially influenced and greatly shaped the field of process and systems engineering and the research minds of contemporary and younger generations around the world. It is a testimony to the strength and intensity of his exquisite intellectual capability and leadership skills, that he played key pivotal role in successfully embedding the multi-scale systems engineering thinking into a host of domains and areas—the Energy Institute that he lead and shaped at Texas A&M is an example par excellence of this.
Professor Floudas’ research record, seminal contributions and achievements are equally extraordinary and really second to none. The author of two graduate textbooks, Nonlinear Mixed-Integer Optimization (Oxford University Press, 1995), and Deterministic Global Optimization (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000), he co-edited ten monographs/books, over 330 refereed publications, delivered over 330 invited lectures, seminars, and named lectureships—with over 31,000 Google Scholar citations and an h-index of 92. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honors for teaching and research that include the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1988; the Engineering Council Teaching Award, Princeton University, 1995; the Bodossaki Foundation Award in Applied Sciences, 1997; the 2001 AIChE Professional Progress Award for Outstanding Progress in Chemical Engineering; the 2006 AIChE Computing in Chemical Engineering Award; the 2007 Graduate Mentoring Award, Princeton University; SIAM Fellow, 2013; TIAS Fellow and Eminent Scholar, 2013–2014; AIChE Fellow, 2013; Honorary Doctorate, Abo Akademi University, Finland, 2014; He was named Thompson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher, for 11 consecutive years from 2001 to 2012; and then again in 2014 and 2015). He was a Member of National Academy of Engineering, 2011; a Member of the Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Sciences of Texas, 2015; a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens, 2015; and a Member of the US National Academy of Inventors in 2015.
As a closest colleague, collaborator and friend—it has been truly a blessing, a privilege and a great honour to be closely associated with such a great man, a great mind, a great scientist, a gentleman, a man of principle, a truly inspirational person—a visionary and a leader who radiated optimism and determination around him, resonating excellence—impacting on the lives of so many people, both intellectually and as a role model.
His unparalleled legacy will stay on and will be guiding us as we move along and ahead to fully accomplish all the things that he paved the way—this special issue dedicated to his ever lasting legacy is a testimony of this.
He will be immensely missed. May his memory be eternal!