Andreas Acrivos was born in Athens, Greece on June 13, 1928. In his early years, Acrivos lived a comfortable life and expected to inherit the textile factory his father co-owned. The German occupation changed these circumstances dramatically, turning Acrivos away from his love of history and toward the more practical field of engineering. Since his father had studied chemistry, Acrivos chose to specialize in chemical engineering. Given Greece’s civil war and Europe’s war recovery, he applied to US schools for college. He received a scholarship from Syracuse University and obtained his B.S. there in 1950. He then continued his chemical engineering studies at the University of Minnesota, obtaining his M.S. in 1951. He enjoyed graduate school enough to postpone going home a few more years, and he graduated from the University of Minnesota with his Ph.D in 1954. Still not ready to return to Greece, Acrivos began looking for a job that would accept his student visa. In 1954 he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and his career took off from there. He attained the rank of Professor in 1959. In 1962 he accepted a position at Stanford University where he remained for 26 years, serving as Chair of the Chemical Engineering Department from 1972 to 1975. In 1983-84, he held a visiting position as Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology. In 1988 he moved across the country to accept the position of Albert Einstein Professor of Science & Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at City College New York (CCNY) where he served as Director of the Levich Institute for Physico-Chemical Hydrodynamics from 1988 to 2001. He retired with Professor Emeritus status at both City College and Stanford in 2001.
Acrivos spent most of his career studying the properties of particulate systems: suspensions, emulsions, and fiber-filled systems. Along with Howard Brenner and George Batchelor, he is largely responsible for our modern focus on the interconnections between the microstructure and microrheology of these materials and their macroscopic flow properties. His papers, coauthored with Frankel, on concentrated suspensions are among the most oft-cited works in the literature of these systems. But it is his collection of papers that combine experimentation and theory on the structure of dense suspensions subject to shear-induced self-diffusion that have had the most far-reaching effects. This series of contributions began with the experimental observations by his student, F. Gadala-Maria, and concluded with the theoretical explanation developed in collaboration with D. Leighton. This work is not only critical to the conduct of proper experimentation with dense suspensions but has also laid the groundwork for subsequent theoretical modeling. Acrivos also devoted considerable effort to studies of the micro-hydrodynamics of single or multiple particles or drops in flow fields. In this area, his work of greatest importance and rheological significance is the extensive series of fundamental studies of drop formation and breakup that originated with his study of the rheology of dilute emulsions (with Frankel).
His role as a mentor to future researchers in rheology is most notable, and he single-handedly populated The Society of Rheology with many of its most productive members. The list is very impressive and includes J. D. Goddard, L. G. Leal, D. Barthes-Biesel, W. B. Russel, J. F. Brady, D. Leighton, and E. S. G. Shaqfeh. The session on “Rheology of Suspensions, Dispersions, and Foams” at the 1990 Santa Fe Meeting was dominated by Prof. Acrivos’ academic children, grandchildren and even a great grandchild. Over 40% of all the session’s papers were either authored or coauthored by one of his progeny. His list of descendants is a “who’s who” in suspension rheology, and several have had a substantial impact in other areas of rheology as well.
Acrivos is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and American Chemical Society, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Physical Society, and American Academy of Arts & Science. He was also a Guggenheim fellow (1960, 1977) and a member of the US National Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from 1980 to 2000. He served the American Institute of Physics as Editor of Physics of Fluids A from 1982-1997, in which capacity he substantially reoriented the journal to contain many papers of fundamental interest to rheologists. He has received many honors, including being made the namesake of two awards: the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Andreas Acrivos Award for Professional Progress in Chemical Engineering and the American Physical Society’s Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics. Acrivos was the 2001 National Medal of Science Awardee and is one of the foremost fluid dynamicists of the 20th Century.