Andreas Acrivos’ life could have been quite simple. His father was the manager of a textile factory in Athens and his mother was related to a prominent family of shipping brokers throughout the Balkans — “so it seemed like my life would have been an easy one; inherit my father’s business and live the good life,” Acrivos said in an interview in 2013. “But then the war came.” By 1947, Europe was devastated by World War II and Greece was in the midst of its own internal conflict. Acrivos decided to head to the United States to achieve his goal of becoming an engineer, at least partially inspired by his father, a trained chemist. In the late 1940s, Acrivos found himself at Syracuse University, where he dove headfirst into the study of chemical engineering. Just a decade and a half later, Acrivos was at the top of his field, researching fluid mechanics and helping Stanford University grow its fledgling chemical engineering programs into one of the most highly-regarded in the country. In 1987, Acrivos moved to the City University of New York, where he continued his groundbreaking research on, among other things, asymptotic expansions, heat & mass transfer, and the influence of electric fields on the motion of small particles, until his retirement in 2000.
By Sara Grossman