Athanassios Fokas, Academic & Scientist, Visits College

College High School students took great interest in the speech given by world-renowned academic and scientist, Dr. Athanassios Fokas, on the topic of “Multi-Learning and Understanding,” that took place in the College Theater on Monday, December 10th.

Dr. Fokas began by giving a recap of his years as a student: how from Cephalonia he came to study abroad, noting that it took intensive and consistent work, something that has driven him throughout his academic career.


He pointed out the benefits of being knowledgeable about and being preoccupied with many different things in life as this helps one to understand various events and phenomena.  This being a fact which applies to all disciplines, not only the sciences.

At the same time, he advised the students to be optimistic and to learn from both their successes and failures.  He confided that he, too, had some failures, but they led him to where he is today.

Dr. Fokas arrived at the School accompanied by his colleague, College alumnus Dr. Vassilis Skanavis.  They were welcomed by Athens College Co-Director and Coordinator of the HAEF School Units, Mr. Apostolos Athanasopoulos.  This was followed by a guided tour of the College campus and facilities by Athens College Junior High School Director, Ms. Vasiliki Tla.

A short profile of Dr. Fokas:

He was born and raised in Cephalonia.  He went on to study Aeronautics at Imperial College (BSc, 1975), Applied Mathematics at Caltech (PhD, 1979) and Medicine at the University of Miami (MD, 1986). In 1986, at the age of 33, he was appointed Professor and Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Clarkson University (USA).  From there, he moved to Imperial College to a Chair of Applied Mathematics and then, in 2002, to a Chair of Nonlinear Mathematical Science at the University of Cambridge where he is a Professorial Fellow of Clare Hall.


In 2000, the London Mathematical Society awarded him the “Naylor Prize,” considered one of the United Kingdom’s most coveted prizes in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. That very same prize was bestowed upon Roger Penrose in 1991 and Stephen Hawking in 1996.  Additionally, he is the recipient of the “Aristeion Prize in Sciences,” awarded every four years by the Academy of Athens to a Greek researcher in Natural Sciences, Mechanical Sciences and Medicine, as well as the “Aristeion Prize of the Bodossaki Foundation,” awarded every two years to Greek researchers by an international committee comprised of scientists and presided over by Nobel Prize winner.

Dr. Fokas holds seven Honorary Doctorates from various universities and was bestowed the distinction of Commander of the Order of the Phoenix by the President of the Hellenic Republic.  In 2009, he was named a Guggenheim Fellow for “his brilliant scientific achievements and exceptionally promising scientific potential.”

He is the first elected member of the Academy of Αthens to teach Applied Mathematics.  He has published more than 350 articles and has written or co-authored seven books and three monographs in various branches of mathematics, medicine, theoretical physics, engineering and biology. “ISI Web of Science” includes Mr. Fokas in the list of mathematicians with the most bibliographic references worldwide.

The great mathematician and biologist, Israel Gelfand, describes Dr. Fokas as a “rare example of a scientist in the style of the Renaissance.”