World-renowned scientist joins FSU to increase recognition of academic excellence

Simon Ostrach, world-class scientist, member of the National Academy of Engineering and pioneer in the fields of buoyancy-driven flows and microgravity science, has joined the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering.

Newly hired as Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Senior Adviser for Academic Excellence, Ostrach plans to utilize his stellar reputation and extensive high-level experience in the academic, scientific and corporate worlds to bring national recognition to the College of Engineering and FSU as institutions of academic excellence.

"One couldn’t find a person better suited to promoting faculty development and excellence than Simon Ostrach," said FSU Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Lawrence G. Abele. "For decades he has been recognized as one of the top scientific and academic minds in the world, as well as for his ability to develop top-notch organizations. We look forward to working with him to push FSU into the top tier of research universities."

"Simon Ostrach raises the college’s public image another notch. He takes us to the next level," said Ching-Jen Chen, dean of the College of Engineering. "He is a wonderful role model for our faculty."

Over the course of a 60-year career, Ostrach has made groundbreaking contributions to engineering and to the understanding of natural convection and physiologic and microgravity flows. His primary current research interest is the effect of weightlessness on the behavior of fluids and how flows—which occur in nature and various technologies—are induced and affected by various forces. Knowledge gained through his research has enabled the development of technologies for producing crystals for semiconductors and for producing microelectronic mechanical (MEM) devices.

Ostrach also designed major experiments that flew aboard the space shuttle in 1992 and 1995. These provided significant insight for developing life-support systems in space, as well as for ground-based materials processing. He was honored by NASA in 1998 as one of its "12 Superstars of Modern Aeronautics."

Ostrach’s ties to FSU go back more than 20 years. In fact, he played a key role in the founding of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. As a consultant hired by then-FSU President Bernard Sliger, Ostrach was instrumental in convincing the state Board of Regents and the Florida Legislature of the need for an engineering college based in North Florida. The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering admitted its first students in 1982.

Over the course of his academic career, Ostrach has supervised the master’s theses of 31 students and the doctoral theses of 37 more. Among the latter group is Dean Chen, who received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Case Western University in 1967. In addition, Ostrach has sponsored two named professorships, one of which is held at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering by Professor Ben Wang.

A fellow of numerous professional societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Ostrach has received honorary doctorates from four universities. One of them is FSU, which awarded him an honorary degree in engineering science in 1994.

Ostrach also is the creator and widely quoted proponent of the concept known as "Research for Design" or "R4D," which encourages the corporate and academic worlds to work together and to adapt a more direct approach to performing research with near-term applications in mind. The R4D concept is one that he hopes to help both the College of Engineering and the larger university implement.

"I’m interested in connecting the college to industry in meaningful ways—to try and make the college a problem-solver for them," he said. "When industry has a real-world problem, we should be who they turn to for a solution."