Changing interactions

Constantine Megaridis

Constantine Megaridis: Mentoring high school students in a research setting helps them “see what’s down the road for them.” Photo: Joshua Clark/UIC Photo Services

The University Scholars Program, now in its 28th year, honors faculty members for superior research and teaching, along with great promise for future achievements. The award provides $10,000 a year for three years.

Constantine Megaridis describes his work in simple yet impressive terms.

“We work to change the interaction between solids and liquids,” said Megaridis, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering. “Repellency and wettability. The applications range from ice and condensation to electromagnetic interference shielding that cuts down cross-talk from one device to another.”

His work makes a difference to anyone who wants to fly in a safely de-iced plane or cook on a non-stick surface. He works with industry giants such as Kimberly-Clark and has filed many patents.

Megaridis first made his mark as a graduate student at Brown University, where he developed a particle sampling technique now used by laboratories around the world to study the behavior of nanoparticles in flames.

More recently, he has examined the deformation of fluid droplets as they collide with flat surfaces and the behavior of fluids constrained in nanotubes.

Megaridis, who has received more than $7.5 million in research funding over his career at UIC, was recently named a fellow of the American Physical Society. This exclusive honor, given for outstanding contributions to physics, is seldom bestowed on an engineering researcher, said Farzad Mashayek, head of mechanical and industrial engineering.

He is “a true citizen of our department,” Mashayek said.

Megaridis is a true citizen of Chicago as well. Every other week, he and his graduate students welcome students from Benito Juarez High School to their UIC lab, helping them with projects for the Chicago Public Schools science fair.

The mentoring helps the Juarez students compete with those from more privileged schools, Megaridis said. “It exposes them to a research-oriented lab so they can see what’s down the road for them,” Megaridis explained.

Other University Scholars:

Michael Cho tinkers with biology

Vladimir Gevorgyan simplifies complexities

E. Douglas Lewandowski focuses on the heart

Janet Richmond breaks ground

David Ucker tells tales of dead cells

Diana Wilkie pinpoints patients’ pain

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