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Ilya Prigogine

Chemist

Died when: 86 years 123 days (1036 months)
Star Sign: Aquarius

Prigogine was born in Moscow a few months before the Russian Revolution of 1917, into a Jewish family.His father, Roman (Ruvim Abramovich) Prigogine, was a chemical engineer at the Imperial Moscow Technical School; his mother, Yulia Vikhman, was a pianist.

Because the family was critical of the new Soviet system, they left Russia in 1921.They first went to Germany and in 1929, to Belgium, where Prigogine received Belgian nationality in 1949.

His brother Alexandre (1913–1991) became an ornithologist.Prigogine studied chemistry at the Free University of Brussels, where in 1950, he became professor.

In 1959, he was appointed director of the International Solvay Institute in Brussels, Belgium.In that year, he also started teaching at the University of Texas at Austin in the United States, where he later was appointed Regental Professor and Ashbel Smith Professor of Physics and Chemical Engineering.

From 1961 until 1966 he was affiliated with the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago and was a visiting professor at Northwestern University.

In Austin, in 1967, he co-founded the Center for Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, now the Center for Complex Quantum Systems.In that year, he also returned to Belgium, where he became director of the Center for Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics.

He was a member of numerous scientific organizations, and received numerous awards, prizes and 53 honorary degrees.In 1955, Ilya Prigogine was awarded the Francqui Prize for Exact Sciences.

For his study in irreversible thermodynamics, he received the Rumford Medal in 1976, and in 1977, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.In 1989, he was awarded the title of Viscount in the Belgian nobility by the King of the Belgians.

Until his death, he was president of the International Academy of Science, Munich and was in 1997, one of the founders of the International Commission on Distance Education (CODE), a worldwide accreditation agency.

Prigogine received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1985 and in 1998 he was awarded an honoris causa doctorate by the UNAM in Mexico City.

Prigogine was first married to Belgian poet Hélène Jofé (as an author also known as Hélène Prigogine) and in 1945 they had a son Yves.

After their divorce, he married Polish-born chemist Maria Prokopowicz (also known as Maria Prigogine) in 1961.In 1970 they had a son Pascal.

In 2003 he was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.


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