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Christodoulos Floudas, world-renowned scholar, professor and director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute passes away

August 16, 2016
| By: Drew Thompson

Dr. Christodoulos A. “Chris” Floudas, director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute, passed away Sunday (Aug. 14) while on vacation with his family in Greece. Floudas, the Erle Nye '59 Chair Professor for Engineering Excellence in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS) Fellow and Eminent Scholar, an American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Fellow, a Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Fellow, a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens.

Floudas was awarded countless honors for his work. In both 2014 and 2015, Floudas was named to the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list. This list includes 3,125 researchers who have contributed markedly high numbers of top-cited papers over a recent 10-year period. According to Thomson Reuters, these papers rank in the top 1 percent most cited for their subject field.

In 2015, Floudas was awarded the Constantin Caratheodory Prize from the International Society of Global Optimization for fundamental contributions to theory, algorithms and applications of global optimization. In 2013, hewas awarded the National Award and Gold Medal of the Hellenic Operational Research Society, (HELORS), which recognizes outstanding research contributions in the field of Operations Research. In 2006, Floudas was presentedthe AIChE Computing in Chemical Engineering Award and in 2001, he was presented the AIChE Professional Progress Award for Outstanding Progress in Chemical Engineering.

Floudas authored two graduate textbooks, was the chief co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Optimization, authored over 325 refereed articles and delivered more than 320 invited lectures, seminars and named lectures, including the Bayer Lecture at Carnegie Mellon, the Professor Roger W.H. Sargent Lecture at Imperial College and the George T. Piercy Lecture at the University of Minnesota.

Floudas was instrumental in the growth of both the Energy Institute and the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M. Floudas took the helm as the director of the Energy Institute on Feb. 1, 2015. During his 18 months as director, the Energy Institute took a prominent position in two major U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiatives. In May, it was announced that a nine-university coalition, which included the Energy Institute, would participate in a six-year, $20 million fossil energy research project. In June, the Energy Institute was selected tolead the Gulf Coast Regional Manufacturing Center, one of five regional hubs established as part of the $140 million Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute through the DOE. The number of faculty affiliates of the Energy Institute also grew significantly during Floudas’ time as director, growing from around 70 associated faculty members, to more than 245.

Floudas joined the chemical engineering department faculty after nearly 30 years at Princeton University. He was recruited through the Chancellor’s Research Initiative (CRI), a program to recruit exceptional faculty to The Texas A&M University System. In his 2015 State of the State Address, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott cited Floudas as “one of the great minds,” that had been recruited to the university through the CRI.

There has been an outpouring of grief and praise from the university's leadership regarding the sudden passing of Floudas.

In an email alerting faculty and staff, Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young stated, “We are deeply saddened to have learned that our dear colleague passed away. He was an amazing scholar who demonstrated leadership in discovery, in innovative teaching and practice, and in serving his discipline and all of society. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Fotini, and his family at this difficult time.”

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp remarked, “I’m saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Dr. Floudas. I had the opportunity to meet Chris through his recruitment in the Chancellor’s Research Initiative. He was a true scholar and gentleman and he’ll be missed by the Aggie Family.  Our thoughts are with his family here and in Greece.”

Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering, remarked, “Chris was an exceptional scholar and a true visionary in his field. This is an immense loss for Texas A&M University and the entire engineering community. Our deepest sympathies are with Fotini and the family."

Dr. M. Nazmul Karim, professor and head of the department of chemical engineering, provided a statement that succinctly describes the feelings of the department.

“Needless to say, this is a loss of unimaginable proportion for the department, the college, the university, and the whole chemical engineering community in the country and around the world,” Karim said. “He was a giant among us. I have lost a very personal friend.” 

A funeral will be held in Greece on Wednesday (Aug. 17) with a memorial service on campus to be held in his honor at a date and time to be announced.

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