Hassan Aref

Hassan Aref (28 September 1950 – 9 September 2011) was the Reynolds Metals Professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech, and the Niels Bohr Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Denmark. Prior to joining Virginia Tech as Dean of Engineering in 2003-2005 Aref was Head of the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a decade from 1992-2003. Before that he was on the faculty of University of California, San Diego, split between the Department of Applied Mechanics and Engineering Science and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics 1985-1992. Simultaneously, he was Chief Scientist at the San Diego Supercomputer Center for three years 1989-1992. Aref started his faculty career in the Division of Engineering at Brown University 1980-85. He was educated at the University of Copenhagen Niels Bohr Institute, graduating in 1975 with a cand. scient degree in Physics and Mathematics. Subsequently he received the PhD degree in Physics from Cornell University in 1980.

Aref is particularly well known for having developed the concept of chaotic advection in fluid mechanics. The notion that regular, laminar flows can produce chaotic particle trajectories is now understood as a cornerstone of fluid flow kinematics and the term chaotic advection is used as a classifying keyword by leading journals of the field and for major conferences. Applications of chaotic advection range from mixing by atmospheric and oceanographic flows to mixing in microfluidic devices. Aref received the 2000 Otto Laporte Award from the American Physical Society for this work and for his work on vortex dynamics for which he is also well known.

Aref was the author of some 80 articles in leading journals in the field of fluid mechanics. He has also authored chapters in several books, edited two collections of papers, and given presentations at conferences and universities around the world.

Throughout his career Aref was involved in editorial work. He was Associate Editor of Journal of Fluid Mechanics 1984-94, founding editor with David G. Crighton of Cambridge Texts in Applied Mathematics, and served on the editorial board of Theoretical and Computational Fluid Dynamics and as co-editor of Advances in Applied Mechanics. He served on the editorial boards of Physics of Fluids, Physical Review E, and Regular and Chaotic Dynamics.

Aref served as chair of the Division of Fluid Dynamics of the American Physical Society. He chaired the US National Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics and has served on advisory boards for several professional societies. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Congress Committee of the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (IUTAM), a member of the National Academies Board on International Scientific Organizations, and a member of the Board of the Society of Engineering Science. He served as Secretary for the Midwest Mechanics Seminar, 1994-2003.

Aref was president of the 20th International Congress of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics held in Chicago in 2000. In the 70+ years of these significant congresses they have been held three times in USA: In 1938 in Boston, MA, with MIT and Harvard University as the host institutions, in 1968 with Stanford University as the host, and in 2000 with a consortium led by University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign as the hosts.

Hassan Aref was born in Alexandria, Egypt. Previously a citizen of Canada, he acquired U.S. citizenship in 1998. He died from an aortic dissection.

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