A.J. Hartsook Professor in Chemical Engineering
Professor of Bioengineering
Prof. Zygourakis received his Dipl. Eng. from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty of the Chemical Engineering Department of Rice University as Assistant Professor in 1980 and served as Chair of his department from 1998 until 2013.
His research interests span several important areas of chemical reaction engineering and bioengineering. Applied mathematics, computer simulations, thermal analysis, digital video microscopy and chemical reactor design are integral parts of his research methodology. Currently, his group is focusing on the development and optimization of a novel thermal process for pyrolytic remediation of soils contaminated with polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), petroleum crudes and other organic contaminants. The new process reduces hydrocarbon and PAH levels to well below regulatory standards while restoring the fertility of treated soils to almost their original level. Prof. Zygourakis and his group are also working on elucidating the fundamental mechanisms controlling the transport and reaction of nitrogen fertilizers in biochar-amended soils, and on developing hybrid multi-scale models that describe the growth of heterogeneous cell populations in the presence of mass transfer limitations.
Prof. Zygourakis has published extensively on biochar and the nitrogen cycle, cellular and tissue engineering, coal utilization and pollution control reactors. He directed research programs funded by NSF, DOE, NIH, NASA and the energy industry, served on the Texas Council on Environmental Technology and chaired or participated in several national committees of professional organizations and federal agencies.
In 2012, he was elected Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers (AIMBE) in recognition of his "...seminal contributions and visionary leadership in the application of engineering principles toward the elucidation of cell and tissue dynamics.”