Alumni, faculty and friends endow graduate student award to honor Jack Zakin

Posted: July 6, 2017

Professor Emeritus Jack Zakin expresses appreciation to guests at the Zakin Graduate Student Award celebration.
Professor Emeritus Jack Zakin expresses appreciation to guests at the Zakin Graduate Student Award celebration.
Forty years ago, a young professor from the University of Missouri-Rolla joined The Ohio State University as professor and chair of Ohio State’s department of chemical engineering, beginning a remarkable journey of service to the department, its students, and alumni.  

The professor chaired the department for 17 years; taught hundreds of students; and received accolades for his research achievements before retiring in 2000.

Yet, even as an emeritus professor, Jacques Zakin has remained active with the department, continuing on with his research and contributing value in numerous ways with all the wisdom and experience he has to offer. Every day he can be found in his office, meeting with PhD students, helping with undergraduates, or mentoring young faculty. 

Such is the legacy of Professor Zakin, whom CBE faculty, former students and staff recently honored by funding the Zakin Graduate Student Award, which will help support a first year graduate student in the department beginning as early as this fall.

On the evening of May 31, over seventy people, including some of Jack’s former students and current and former colleagues, gathered to share their appreciation for Jack and commemorate his service with a special dinner and celebration of the successful effort to endow the graduate student award honoring him. Guests watched a short video highlighting Jack’s career, and enjoyed sharing stories about Jack’s years of service in CBE or recalling how his mentorship had helped them as students.  

Professor Emeritus Jack Zakin and wife Laura, along with other guests, enjoy the comments of a speaker commemorating the evening.
Professor Emeritus Jack Zakin and wife Laura enjoy the comments of a guest, along with son Richard Zakin and former CBE professor Jim Davis (far left) and CBE Emeritus Professors Tom Sweeney and Harry Hershey (to the right of Jack). Behind Jack is Mike Kukla (former CBE design engineer), and current PhD student Andy Maxson, along with Professor David Tomasko (left), and to the right, Ron Harris (alumnus), Professor Aravind Asthagiri, and alumnus Mike Owens.


Several guests traveled from afar to attend, such as former CBE faculty member Jim Davis, who came from California, and two of Jack’s children, Barbara and Richard, who came from New York. Dozens more sent in their warm congratulations and remembrances, which were assembled into a memory book as a keepsake for the Zakins.

Many faculty and former students spoke of the caring mentorship they had received from Dr. Zakin, describing the impact it had had on their professional growth. One undergraduate who currently works with Professor Zakin on heat transfer research wrote in an earlier letter, “When I was visiting colleges to decide on a school, I was truly blown away by your warmness and openness to take time out of your work to visit with me and explain your research to a potential student. That opportunity is one of the main reasons I decided to attend Ohio State.”

Professor Umit Ozkan and Jack Zakin share a moment during the dinner.
Professor Umit Ozkan and Jack Zakin share a moment during the dinner.
“Dr. Zakin has done so much for the department, its students, and alumni,” said Umit Ozkan, who launched the effort and performed much of the outreach necessary for obtaining the support needed to establish the endowment. “It’s the very least we can do to honor him, and express from the heart our gratitude and appreciation,” she said. In addition to being a dedicated professor and mentor who is passionate about the success of his students, as CBE’s department chair from 1977-1994, Dr. Zakin was instrumental in building the foundation of the department by hiring many of the faculty that are still active today. He also cultivated very close ties with alumni, many of whom became loyal supporters of the department during the campaign for the new Koffolt Laboratories building. 

Professor Zakin is known best for his research in drag reduction, heat transfer and rheology. He studied chemical engineering at Cornell and Columbia, finishing with a doctor of engineering science at New York University. In 1994, he was appointed as the Helen C. Kurtz Chair at The Ohio State University. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and a Professional Engineer in the State of Ohio who received a Fulbright award in 1994, the Hlavka Medal of Czechoslovakian Academy of Science award in 1992, numerous awards from Ohio State’s College of Engineering, and the Japanese Government Research Award for Foreign Specialist in 2001. In 2007 he was elected to the Academy of Chemical Engineers at University of Missouri-Rolla. In 1999 he was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Mexican Academy of Sciences and Mexican-USA Foundation for Science. In 2014 he became an inaugural member along with 71 other elite emeritus faculty (representing just three percent of the total number of emeritus professors at Ohio State) into the newly-formed Ohio State Emeritus Academy developed to support the continued research, scholarship, and creative activity of emeritus faculty members.

Dr. Zakin's research program remains active and he continues to secure funding. Currently he is advising two PhD students.

While the Zakin Graduate Student Award has met the minimum level of funding ($50,000) to qualify as an endowment, a larger endowment will provide more support for graduate-level students. Alumni and friends may still add to the fund with a gift, or make an additional gift, by visiting The larger the fund, the more support can be given to a deserving graduate student.

Thank you for supporting one of our most dedicated professors!

Categories: AlumniFaculty