Professor Jonathan Higdon named Dennis and Cathy Houston Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


Professor Jonathan Higdon has been named the Dennis and Cathy Houston Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Jonathan Higdon

Professor Jonathan Higdon is a leader and innovative thinker in the field of computational fluid dynamics.

Owing to his leadership and outstanding scholarship, Professor Higdon has been named the inaugural Dennis and Cathy Houston Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois. This professorship recognizes Higdon’s research in developing new techniques in computational science and applied mathematics with application to high impact engineering applications. These efforts have led to a strong national and international reputation in the field.

The receipt of the Houston Professorship, which was effective August 16, 2013, is a distinct honor for Higdon.

“The research support provided through an endowed chair is truly valued because it can serve as seed money and allow one to explore new research thrusts and broaden his research program,” he said. “In my own research in computational fluid dynamics and applied mathematics, we have recently initiated a number of new thrusts in geophysical fluid dynamics, modeling of geological dynamics, and flow in porous media. These thrusts all focus on engineering applications for the energy industry and the environment.”

Higdon received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanics and Materials Science from Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University in England. After postdoctoral studies at Stanford University, he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1980.

The Professorship was made possible by Dennis and Cathy Houston. Dennis Houston received a bachelor of science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1974. After graduation he joined Exxon, eventually reaching the position of executive vice president of the ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company.  After his retirement from ExxonMobil in 2010, he has held the position of director for various companies, including Argus Media, PBF Energy, and GasLog.  He was recognized with an LAS Alumni Achievement Award in 2006 and was the department’s Parr Lecturer in 2008.

Higdon said he is grateful for the support from the Houston’s which made this professorship possible —“It is especially gratifying to be named the Dennis and Cathy Houston Professor owing to the strong leadership shown by Dennis Houston throughout his distinguished career in the energy industry.”

An investiture will be planned for spring 2014.