Sengers Honored at Burgers Symposium

news story image

Above: Distinguished University Professor Emeritus Jan V. Sengers (left) cuts a cake with his wife, Dr. Johanna (Anneke) Levelt Sengers (Scientist Emerita, NIST). Below: Professor Sengers with colleagues, collaborators and friends from the joint Anisimov/Sengers research group. Left to right: Dr. Vincent Holten (postdoctoral research associate), Dr. Vakhtang Agayan (formerly advised by ChBE professor Mikhail Anisimov), Alec Agayan (son of Dr. Agayan and Dr. Abdulkadirova), Dr. Habsat Abdulkadirova (former postdoctoral research associate), Dr. Andrei Povodyrev (former postdoctoral research associate), Professor Jan Sengers, Professor Jose Ortiz de Zarate (Complutense University Madrid, collaborator of Sengers), ChBE Professor Mikhail Anisimov, ChBE graduate student Deepa Subramanian (advised by Anisimov), ChBE graduate student Daphne Fuentevilla (advised by Anisimov), ChBE undergraduate Elia Altabet (advised by Anisimov), and alumna Professor Jutta Luettmer-Strathmann (Ph.D. '94, physics, formerly advised by Sengers and now a member of the University of Akron faculty). Luettmer-Strathmann delivered one of the Burgers Symposium's lectures, "Elongated Chain Molecules."

The Institute for Physical Science and Technology (IPST) hosted its Eighth Annual Burgers Symposium and a gala reception in honor of Distinguished University Professor Emeritus Jan V. Sengers' 80th birthday. Friends, family and colleagues from around the world joined in the celebration.

The Burgers Symposium, founded by Sengers (joint; Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering [ChBE] and IPST) and former IPST director Katepalli Sreenivasan, is held in honor of the late professor emeritus Johannes Burgers, a key member of the University of Maryland's Institute of Fluid Dynamics and Applied Mathematics, which later merged with the Institute for Molecular Physics to become IPST. Burgers was one of the world's leading authorities on fluid dynamics and the namesake of the Burgers' Equation, a one-dimensional, nonlinear partial differential equation based on his theories of turbulence. (Learn more about Professor Burgers' career »)

Sengers is also the "founding father" of IPST's Burgers Program for Fluid Dynamics. Over 60 faculty members from the A. James Clark School of Engineering and the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences are affiliated with the program, which was established in 2004 to "enhance the quality and international visibility of fluid dynamics research and educational programs at the University of Maryland." Members of the program also collaborate with the J.M. Burgerscentrum in Delft, The Netherlands, which served as Sengers' inspiration.

Sengers is internationally recognized for his expertise in experimental and theoretical thermodynamics and the statistical physics of soft condensed matter, as well as his contributions to the improvement of engineering education. He is the author or editor of numerous books and over 200 journal articles, an elected fellow of several professional societies, and the recipient of many honors and awards, most recently the Clark School's Faculty and Staff Outstanding Commitment Award. (You can read more about Professor Sengers' distinguished career in research and education in this story.)

He maintains a busy international lecture schedule and an active research program. In September 2011, he presented a new international formulation for the thermal conductivity of water and steam at a meeting of the International Association for Transport Properties in Thessaloniki, Greece. Shortly after, the International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam adopted the formulation as the new international standard for its 20 member nations.

"Because of the discoveries made by...[Jan] Sengers 50 years ago," his friend, colleague and frequent collaborator ChBE professor Mikhail Anisimov wrote in a letter published in the International Journal of Thermophysics1, "critical phenomena in fluids and fluids mixtures have become an integral part of condensed-matter physics. These fascinating phenomena are universally described by the elegant theory of mesoscopic fluctuations and are strongly supported by beautiful experiments."

At the reception, Sengers' colleagues praised the positive influence he has had on the university community. "[He's] made very important contributions to the education of students, particularly graduate students," said IPST Professor Michael Coplan, director of UMD's Chemical Physics Graduate Program. "It was Jan who revived the chemical physics program, and within the next couple of years, we will have graduated over 100 Ph.D. students."

"One of the first things I learned [after joining IPST] was that Jan Sengers is a formidable person," said IPST director Rajarshi Roy. "He goes everywhere, he does everything that he needs to do, and he does it well. And he's an inspiration to all of us in ways that I cannot even begin to count. So I thank him for being such an inspiration, and such a source of life, vibrancy and energy to the entire institute and to the entire university."

Sengers' career was also recently celebrated at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in October 2011, where the Thermodynamics & Transport Properties section sponsored two special sessions, "In Honor of Jan Sengers' 80th Birthday I & II," chaired by Anisimov.

1 Mikhail Anisimov. "Letter to the Editor: Fifty Years of Breakthrough Discoveries in Fluid Criticality." International Journal of Thermophysics, (2011) 32:2001-2009.

Published December 9, 2011