Aris, Rutherford 1929–2005

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Aris, Rutherford 1929–2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born September 15, 1929, in Bournemouth, England; died of complications from Parkinson's disease, November 2, 2005, in Edina, MN. Chemical engineer, educator, and author. Aris was a professor emeritus of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities who gained some notoriety for publishing a fictional entry of his alter ego, Aris Rutherford, in an edition of Who's Who. A brilliant student who would later specialized in the difficult discipline of distillation practice, Aris completed a bachelor's degree at the University of London when he was only sixteen years old. The university, however, did not actually award him the degree until three years later, in 1948, because it was reluctant to grant a B.Sc. to someone so young. Aris went on to earn a Ph.D. in 1960 and a D.Sc. in 1964, both from the University of London. The first few years of his professional career were spent as a technical officer for Imperial Chemical Industries in England during the early 1950s. He soon entered academia, however, working as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis for a year before returning to the United Kingdom to lecture in technical mathematics at the University of Edinburgh. Aris went back to Minnesota, at the Twin Cities campus, in 1958 to accept a post as an assistant professor. He moved up to full professor in 1963 and became Regents' Professor of Chemical Engineering in 1978, retiring in 1996. During the early 1970s, a somewhat comical twist in Aris's career emerged when the editors of the reference series Who's Who started sending him requests to submit biographical and career information under the name Aris Rutherford. Aris tried several times to explain that his name was actually Rutherford Aris, but the requests kept insisting he submit information under the other name. Aris finally relented, composing a fictional biography and career for Aris Rutherford, including fictional parents and a list of published books. The hoax only lasted a year, however, and when it was discovered that the biography was erroneous Aris readily admitted to what he had done and submitted his actual information to the publication. Aris, a highly respected chemical engineer who had received such honors as the 1991 Damköhler medal from the Deutsche Vereinigung für Chemie und Verfahrenstechnik, the 1992 Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award from the American Automatic Control Council, and the 1998 N.R. Amundson award from the International Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering, was also a prolific author. He contributed hundreds of articles to professional journals and was the author or editor of almost twenty books. Among his books are Introduction to the Analysis of Chemical Reactors (1965), Mathematical Modeling Techniques (1978), and Mathematical Modeling: A Chemical Engineer's Perspective (1999).



Guardian (London, England), December 21, 2005, p. 32.

New York Times, November 20, 2005, p. A29.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), November 10, 2005, p. B8.