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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


PSE group news

December 20th 2019: Dr Vassiliadis to publish an article on The Guardian

April 4th 2019: Dr Vassiliadis presents at Roger Sargent Memorial in CPSE in Imperial College London

April 1st 2019: Dr Vassiliadis recognised for outstanding contribution as a reviewer

March 23rd 2019: PSE group at the Cambridge Science Festival

December 20th 2019: Dr Vassiliadis to publish an article on The Guardian

Dr Vassiliadis submitted an article, Modern Academia and the Impact of Good (Zen!) Management, on the 1st November 2019, currently under review for publication in the Education Section of The Guardian newspaper, UK. The Research for this article was exclusively financed as well as supported in kind by expert advise time investment by CSS Ltd. UK, United Kingdom in collaboration with the Process Systems Engineering Research Group ("PSE @ Cambridge"), Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. The abstract of the article:


Nowadays, academic institutions seem to be undergoing a rapid transformation over the past 5 or so years, which is a continuation of the trends observed over the past 1--2 decades.  The difference now is that the changes are more rapid, and hence more evident and identifiable.  This article aims to discuss good management strategies so as to ensure sustainability and longevity of an academic institution in the long-term.

The manuscript of the article can be found here.


Key references in the draft article manuscript provided are the following:

  1. Pascale, R. T., "Zen and the Art of Management", Harvard Business Review, March (1978).
  2. Sinek, S. (Simon), "TedxMaastricht - Simon Sinek - "First why and then trust"", 6 April (2011).
  3. Zein, A. (Axel), "The Perfect Boss: Dr. Axel Zein at TEDxStuttgart", 11 March (2013).
  4. Devlin, H., Marsh, S., "Hundreds of academics at top UK universities accused of bullying", The Guardian, 28 September (2018).
  5. Sogen, O. (Omori), An Introduction to Zen Training, Tuttle Publishing (2001).  [can be found e.g. at:
  6. Sogen, O., (Omori), The Art of a Zen Master, Rutlege Publishing (2016).  [can be found e.g. at:]

References on Zen Philosophy itself are the following:

Zen Master Omori Sogen, the author of the last two books in the references list above, is probably one of the most influential Zen Masters (= "teachers" of Zen) not only in the West but in recorded modern history of this School of Thought.

Reading Omori's books and his other voluminous bulk of work (more than 20 published books for example!), one does get the idea of a very keen and sharp intellect, using thought in a disciplined way almost like as in a "Martial Art of Thought", that he is widely-read with very diverse interests.

His dying wish is, almost(!), in some of his later work to have integrated Japanese Zen Philosophy with ideas paralleled entirely in Greek Philosophy (e.g. by the equivalent of the Greek "Zen Masters": Socrates, Aristotle, Thales, Democritus, and even Pythagoras and Archimedes who in those times had no distinction between what we now call "Mathematics" and "Science" and Philosophy).

Briefly, from Wikipedia one can find the following on Zen Master Omori Sogen (

"Ōmori Sōgen was a teacher of Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryū swordsmanship,[1] and a calligrapher in the Taishi school of Yamaoka Tesshū. He became well known for his unique approach to Zen practice integrating insights from his martial and fine arts training with traditional Zen methods; this approach has been described as a unity of Zen, Ken ("sword", referring to martial arts or physical culture), and Sho ("brush", referring to calligraphy or fine arts).

Ōmori founded Seitaiji monastery in Japan and Daihonzan Chozen-ji in Honolulu, Hawaii, the first Rinzai headquarters temple established outside Japan according to Rinzai canon law."

Omori Sogen was born in Japan in 1904, and passed away in 1994, at the age of 90 years old.  He belonged to the Rinzai Zen Sect in Japan ("the warrior's way of Zen"), being one of the key modern shapers and presidents of Hanazono University in Kyoto, Japan (

"The university is comprised of the Faculty of Letters and the Faculty of Social Welfare that embody the founding “spirit of Zen.”"

Description of Zen Schools in Japan and their philosophy can be found through this link

"In the early days there were two competing schools of Zen Buddhism: Soto, which emphasized mediating in the seated position under strict guidelines, and Rinzai, which emphasized lengthy question-and-answer drills and the contemplation of koan (metaphysical riddles that have no logical answer) such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

The Rinzai sect, the oldest of the Japanese Zen sects, was founded in the 12th century by Myoan Eisai. The Soto Zen sect was founded by Dogen (1200-1253), a student of Eisai who also studied in China. It emphasizes shitan taza (literally "just sitting"). Sometimes trainees of the Soto Zen sect a make a vow of silence and spend their time meditating, studying and eating in silence. There are 15,000 Sato Zen temples in Japan today."

"Zen emphasizes intuitive insight and living for the "here and now." The idea of Zen is not to do something deliberately or with intent, but rather to remove yourself from what you are doing at let "higher forces" guide you. Zen looks down on the use of logic, intellect, idolatry and sacred texts and stresses self-reliance and meditation and emphasizes concrete thought over metaphysical speculation."

[The material above is from the original research work by Dr. Vassilios S. Vassiliadis in the production of the draft article provided here that is under review with The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom currently.]



April 4th 2019: Dr Vassiliadis presents at Roger Sargent memorial in CPSE in Imperial College London (original article here)

Dr Vassiliadis, PI of the Process Systems Engineering (PSE) research group in our Department, was an invited speaker during an event of unique importance held at Imperial College in London, honouring the memory of Professor Roger W.H. Sargent.

Professor Sargent was the founder of the area of Process Systems Engineering (PSE) within Chemical Engineering, in which he was working from the 1950's and 1960's.  He foresaw the necessity of introducing rigorous modelling and solution methodologies across the field within our discipline, by fusing with various quantified scientific fields in an interdisciplinary way, and worked systematically to achieve this until his retirement in 1993 and beyond.  His influence in Chemical Engineering is considered to be one of the greatest ever effected in shaping the discipline and profession.

Participants in the event came from all over the world to be present: family and friends, old colleagues, students.  Some key academic participants were: from Imperial College Professor Nilay Shah, Head of Department, Professor Claire Adjiman, director of the Centre for Process Systems Engineering (CPSE), Professor Costas Pantelides, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Process System Enterprise Ltd., from University College London Professor David Bogle, from Carnegie-Mellon University in the United States Professor Ignacio Grossmann, and many other important personalities from the area of Chemical Engineering.  All the above mentioned belong to Professor Sargent's extraordinary academic tree.

Dr Vassiliadis, being one of the last PhD students of Professor Sargent, also supervised jointly by Professor C.C. Pantelides at Imperial College, gave an  invited talk at the event.  He presented an overview of Optimal Control in Chemical Engineering, particularly focusing on the original inception by Professor Sargent in the 1960's to the present state-of-the-art, and looking forward into the future.  Dr Vassiliadis also gave a closing short presentation for the formal events of the day, discussing the contribution of Professor Sargent, his influence in Chemical Engineering as a whole, as well as sharing some of his personal memories of his mentor.

Along with Dr Vassiliadis, the CPSE at Imperial College invited all PhD students of the PSE group in our Department to participate also in all events of the day there.   The event was very unique in that it was a tribute to a person who started an entire field within our engineering discipline, and was attended by numerous international academics and industrialists – most of whom belonged to the very large academic family tree of Professor Sargent, which includes several generations and several thousands of PhD students.

Dr Vassiliadis stated:

“Roger Sargent was quite possibly the most influential Chemical Engineering in our era, who is in effect responsible for introducing sophisticated rigorous mathematical modelling in an integrated manner in our discipline.

Directly with his own scientific contributions, as well as those of the thousands of students on his multi-generational academic tree, he has without a doubt created enormous savings for industry and society, which without exaggeration will be in the billions of pounds by now.  Equally important is also the creation of the associated numerous new jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs and for new enterprises.

PSE is as relevant as ever presently, with great contributions to be made with better understanding, control and optimisation of novel challenging processes, such as in Biotechnology and biomedical applications. Also with process intensification and innovation, and an ever-increasing complexity of industrial complexes, it is also very important to continue developing new tools able to manage these safely and profitably.

Professor Sargent, “Prof.” to all his students, was an exceptional person and an outstanding mentor.  He inspired confidence in everyone working with him and especially to all of us, his students.  

I am deeply grateful to Prof. for having chosen to teach us and to share his dream with us. May his legacy be passed down for many generations to come, and may he be remembered for the great human being he was.”

Photos of the dinner with the PSE group are shown below, while a link to the slides of Dr Vassiliadis presentation can be found here.


Members of the PSE research group from Cambridge University with
Dr Vassiliadis during the RWH Sargent Memorial Event dinner



April 1st 2019: Dr Vassiliadis recognised for outstanding contribution as a reviewer (original article here)

CEB senior lecturer and principal investigator of our Process Systems Engineering group Dr Vassilios Vassiliadis has received three important awards from international scientific journals in chemical engineering. Three high impact journals – Chemical Engineering Science, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, and Computers and Chemical Engineering – have recognised his outstanding contribution as a reviewer.

Dr Vassiliadis works on the design and operation of complex production systems, and is focused on the development and application of modelling and computational methods to simulate, design, control and optimise processes, studied through the mathematical description of the underlying physicochemical and biochemical phenomena. He serves as a reviewer for 18 scientific journals and is also a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of international journal Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering (BBE) of the Korean Society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering.

He commented: “To receive these three awards for outstanding peer-review activities for top international journals is a very important recognition of my contribution over the last three decades in the field of chemical engineering. It means a lot to an academic to have the international research community recognise such an important aspect of their professional life.

Peer-review activities are a paramount aspect of an academic’s career, in that by this means they contribute to the international scientific and learned communities they belong to. Beyond this, they help shape the future research landscape by the questions and clarifications they request from authors, as well as their communications with editors – particularly if they belong to editorial boards of journals.

Carrying out a review of a paper is not a task that is either easy, or should be taken lightly. Quite often the work is the result of the efforts of young scholars and research students, and therefore it is important to convey to them precise and clearly structured information in their first steps towards establishing independent careers. It is paramount also to maintain a high level of professionalism, so as to avoid disappointing authors and maintain a level of strict dignity and courtesy in the field.

For an established academic it is not therefore only an honour to be involved in such international activities, but also a means to transfer knowledge through the reviews to people working at all corners of the planet. My contribution through peer-review activities to the international research community reflects directly the ethos and exceptional academic standard of Cambridge University and our department. This is where I established my independent academic career 24 years ago, being given the privilege to mature as a researcher and educator.

I am very pleased and grateful for these three awards, and hope to continue to contribute actively in my chosen field of expertise in the years to come from within our exceptionally unique institution at Cambridge.”


March 23rd 2019: PSE group at the Cambridge Science Festival

On Saturday 23 March, the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology organised an open day for the public as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. The aim of this event was to inform the public how chemical engineering can be linked with other fields of science to result in discoveries with profound impact on society.

During this event, Mr Vasileios Mappas, a first year PhD student in PSE group, gave a presentation titled “From discovery to design of chemical product: Past Present and Future”. The goal of this talk was to introduce the audience to Computer Aided Molecular Design (CAMD) and how this is connected to the discovery of new molecules.

“It was the first time I participated in a Science Festival and I really enjoyed the whole experience. It was challenging to explain the concept of CAMD without any mathematical equations to an audience which did not have a background in chemical engineering and mathematics. The audience was very nice and asked many relevant questions.” said Vasileios. “I would like to thank Dr Vassilios Vassiliadis for giving me the opportunity to give this presentation, for helping me prepare and for allowing me to represent the PSE Group at the Science Festival. Also I would like to thank Dr Ljiljana Fruk for her help during the Science Festival.”

For more information of the Cambridge Science Festival event in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, please click here.