Professor T. J. (Lakis) Mountziaris of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS is the world's largest multidisciplinary scientific society, with members in more than 91 countries around the globe, and a leading publisher of cutting-edge scientific research through its Science family of journals.
According to the AAAS, Mountziaris is receiving this prestigious lifetime honor “for significant research contributions in the synthesis of nanostructured photonic materials and for national research leadership impacting the science and engineering community.”
AAAS Honorary Fellows “are a distinguished cadre of scientists, engineers, and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines; from research, teaching, and technology, to administration in academia, industry, and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public,” according to the AAAS.
AAAS Fellows are elected annually by the AAAS Council in a tradition stretching back to 1874. Newly elected Fellows are recognized for their extraordinary achievements at the ceremonial Fellows Forum, a time-honored event at the AAAS Annual Meeting, where they are presented with a certificate and blue and gold rosette. According to the AAAS website, notable Fellows include Thomas Edison, Maria Mitchell, W.E.B. Du Bois, Steven Chu, Ellen Ochoa, and Irwin M. Jacobs.
Mountziaris and his research group have been working on fundamental and applied research projects in the areas of photonic materials synthesis, biosensors, reaction engineering, reactor design, and multi-phase flows. Mountziaris credits his students and collaborators for his group’s discoveries that have had an impact on a variety of industrial processes.
Examples of his research include the discovery of new phenomena and fundamental governing laws of complex reacting flows, the design of chemical vapor deposition reactors for the optoelectronics industry, the development of new scalable processes for synthesis and functionalization of semiconductor nanocrystals (also known as “quantum dots”), the discovery of a new class of biosensors for rapid quantitative detection of biomolecular targets using quantum dots, and the design of fluidized-bed reactors for catalytic conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels and chemicals.
Mountziaris has also made important contributions to the science and engineering research community by developing and managing federal funding programs for the National Science Foundation (NSF) through his appointment as Program Director for Particulate and Multiphase Processes (2003-05) and Process Systems, Reaction Engineering, and Molecular Thermodynamics (2015-19). He also served as liaison between NSF and the U.S. Department of Energy on the development of federal funding opportunities in the areas of process intensification and plasma science and technology.
As NSF Program Director, Mountziaris served on strategic planning committees charged with identifying emerging research opportunities with high potential societal impact and developing proposal solicitations to support fundamental research in these areas.
In 2018, Mountziaris led the team of NSF Program Directors that developed a new initiative on Distributed Chemical Manufacturing (DChEM) that “aims to support fundamental research projects focusing on the development of modular process plants able to take advantage of distributed feedstocks and product delivery needs or to address environmental remediation problems at the source.”
DCheM won a nationwide competition on emerging research topics commissioned by NSF and was launched as a research theme by NSF’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program in 2020, with a follow up funding solicitation that was just released by NSF for FY 2021.
Mountziaris joined UMass in 2005 as a professor and the head of Chemical Engineering and led the department during a period of significant growth until 2014. In 2015 he was appointed Program Director for Process Systems, Reaction Engineering, and Molecular Thermodynamics at NSF and served in that position until 2019.
Prior to joining UMass, Mountziaris was as a faculty member in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University at Buffalo (1989-2005).
Mountziaris holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and a Diploma in Chemical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He also pursued postdoctoral studies in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota before starting his academic career.
Mountziaris has won several awards and honors for his research and teaching accomplishments and is also a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. (November 2020)