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Noted Researcher to Lecture at UMass Amherst

On September 26 and 27 Julio M. Ottino, dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University, will visit the campus to give two separate lectures, the first aimed at a scientific audience, and the second at the university as a whole. Ottino is a distinguished researcher and scholar and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering (1997) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2003). He has been a Guggenheim fellow and American Physical Society fellow. His research has been featured in articles for Nature, Science, Scientific American, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and other publications.

On Thursday, September 26, at 11:15 a.m. in LGRT 201 Ottino will present the 2013 Alumni Distinguished Lecture for the Chemical Engineering Department, entitled “Mixing of Fluids and Solids: Parallels, Divergences, and Lessons.” Refreshments will be served at 11:00 a.m. Then on Friday, September 27, at 3:00 p.m. in Campus Center 163C he will talk about “Creativity in Science, Art, and Technology – How Art Separated from Science (and how they may join again).” A reception will follow on the 10th Floor.

As Ottino says about his first lecture on September 26, which is suitable for engineers and scientists: “The birth of mixing of fluids and some of the first incursions into granular matter and segregation offer valuable insights and lessons. These two topics developed in wildly different ways and serve as examples of the power of couching ideas in elegant formalisms, but also of the problems that ensue when a general formalism is elusive. We present an array of results, spanning fluid mixing at one extreme and granular matter at the other. Examples cover vibration, surface flow, segregation, and pattern formation, and serve to illustrate questions of framing and analysis, connections with mathematical formalisms, and choosing an appropriate level of description and theoretical approach.”

Ottino’s lecture on September 27 is geared to a general campus audience. As he says, “Creativity is essential in art, in science, and in technology. But in what ways is creativity in these three areas different? In what ways is it similar? Technology is about invention, making and building; science is about unveiling, revealing what may already be there. Philosophers, placing the emphasis on uniqueness, have declared that science is ephemeral and that art is permanent and placed artistic creation on the highest plane. Others have taken the same viewpoint, but is this actually true? Or more pragmatically, are there creative processes and lessons that can be transferred across domains? And in what ways do the domains intersect and enrich each other? I will argue that artistic creativity reveals processes that hold lessons for scientific and technological creativity.”

At Northwestern Ottino also holds the titles of Distinguished Robert R. McCormick Institute Professor and Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Previously, Ottino was Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and founding co-director of NICO, the Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems, run jointly by McCormick and the Kellogg School of Management.

Ottino is a distinguished researcher and scholar whose work has impacted fields as diverse as complex systems, microfluidics, geophysical sciences, and nonlinear dynamics and chaos. He has supervised more than 45 Ph.D. theses and has written over 200 papers; one of his books has been cited over 2,000 times.

Ottino has been the recipient of numerous national awards, including the Alpha Chi Sigma Award and the William H. Walker award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). In 2008 he received the Fluid Dynamics Prize from the American Physical Society. In 2008 he was also selected by AIChE as one of the “One Hundred Engineers of the Modern Era,” and in 2010 he was selected to deliver the 62nd Institute Lecture of AIChE.

He has chaired committees for the National Research Council, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Engineering. He was a member of the International Review of Engineering in the United Kingdom and has served on multiple visiting boards for non-profit organizations and educational institutions in the United States.

Ottino received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, started his career at UMass Amherst in Chemical Engineering and Polymer Science and Engineering, and held chaired and senior appointments at Caltech and Stanford. He is also an artist, having exhibited his paintings and sculptures. 

Ottino lives in Winnetka, Illinois, with his wife, Dr. Alicia Löffler. They have two sons; one a junior, the other pursuing graduate education. They enjoy going together to Renaissance Weekends. (September 2013)

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