Christodoulos Achilleus Floudas was born on August 31, 1959, in Ioannina, Greece. Attending the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, he received his Diploma of Chemical Engineering in 1982, and subsequently matriculated at Carnegie Mellon University, where he received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1986, under the guidance of Ignacio Grossmann. Chris joined Princeton as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1986, being promoted to associate professor in 1991 and to professor in 1994, and was named the Stephen C. Macaleer ’63 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science in 2007. Concurrently, Chris was a faculty member in the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics starting in 1990, and was an associated faculty member in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering starting in 2000. He also served as chemical engineering’s director of graduate studies from 1994 to 1998.
Chris’ research area is global optimization: deriving the best solution to a mathematical problem, in contexts as diverse as efficient heat exchanger networks in chemical plants, the folding of proteins into their three-dimensional structures, and the best feed and product distributions for producing liquid transportation fuels from municipal waste, biomass, coal, and natural gas. In a discipline where writing books is already unusual, Chris produced a remarkable number in his time at Princeton, including authoring the textbooks Nonlinear and Mixed-Integer Optimization: Fundamentals and Applications (1995) and Deterministic Global Optimization: Theory, Methods and Applications (2000), and coediting two editions of the massive Encyclopedia of Optimization (2001, 6 volumes; 2008, 7 volumes). He has published well over 300 peer-reviewed journal articles, a figure which continues to grow rapidly. His former Ph.D. students and postdoctoral associates have gone on to distinction in both academia and industry; Chris was recognized with Princeton’s Graduate Mentoring Award in 2011.
Chris served as an anchor of chemical and biological engineering’s undergraduate curriculum, through the capstone chemical process design course, “Design, Synthesis, and Optimization of Chemical Processes” (CBE 442). This demanding course, for which Chris received Princeton’s Engineering Council Teaching Award in 1995, impressed upon students the complexity of designing an operable and profitable plant for the production of chemicals or fuels from a range of available feedstocks—a task all the more important today, with the resurgence of chemical manufacturing in the United States.
For his scholarship, Chris has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Professional Progress Award (2001) and the Computing in Chemical Engineering Award (2006) from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; the Bodossaki Foundation Award in Applied Sciences (1997); Fellowship in the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (2013); and the Gold Medal of the Hellenic Operations Research Society (2015). He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2011, and to the Academy of Athens in 2015, and received an honorary doctorate from Abo Akademi University in 2014.
Upon transferring to emeritus status on February 1, 2015, Chris embarked on a new phase of his career as the director of the Energy Institute at Texas A&M University, and as the Erle Nye ’59 Chair Professor for Engineering Excellence within Texas A&M’s Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. While he will be sorely missed by his Princeton colleagues, we wish Chris and his wife Fotini the best for their future endeavors in College Station!