Michael Nikolaou is professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and petroleum engineering at the University of Houston. Nikolaou is constantly puzzled by engineering problems that could be solved with combined use of computers and all-natural intelligence. He contributes towards finding and disseminating such solutions through research and teaching. In recent years, he has tackled problems in the energy and health fields, most of them related to the design, monitoring, and automated operation of related systems.
In the 28 years of his academic career, Nikolaou has received several research grants from both government and industry, has published extensively and has presented his research at numerous conferences. He has also consulted extensively in industry, both in the U.S. and abroad, and is named in a number of patents. He continuously tries to transfer his real-world experience to the classroom, equally emphasizing fundamentals and practical applications.
In Nikolaou’s educational role as a stand-up professor, he often makes mistakes when lecturing, whether deliberately or not, emphasizing the “road not taken” as much as the correct solution. Among his many undergraduate and graduate students now gainfully employed, over two dozen of his former doctoral and master’s students have launched successful careers in industry, academia or as entrepreneurs, both in the U.S. and overseas.
Nikolaou received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from National Technical University in Athens, Greece, in 1984, and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1989. Upon earning his doctoral degree, Nikolaou moved to Texas, where he started both a family and an academic career at Texas A&M University. After obtaining tenure at A&M and serving as a visiting scientist at MIT, he settled in Houston in 1997. Having lived happily in his adopted homeland, he says “from sea to shining sea,” he has lived the longest on the Third Coast and feels equally at home on all three.