by Damià Barceló Cullerès, IDAEA and Despo Fatta-Kassinos, University of Cyprus
On November 21, 2023, Dion passed away in Cincinnati, Ohio/US, at the age of 58. In addition to being a scientist, teacher, and author, Dion was a dedicated husband to Paula and a loving father to his daughters Stella and Marianna. Dion's impactful life transcended his role as a university professor; it was a global scientist dedicated to advancing water science and engineering. Through his extensive travels, he not only shared knowledge but also made significant contributions to the international landscape of water science, leaving an indelible mark on the field.
Dion was born in Cyprus in 1965. He started his career as a research assistant at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) after he obtained his BSc from NTUA in 1991.
Subsequently, he relocated to the US, initially joining Tufts University from 1992-94, and then WR Grace, Massachusetts, in 1994-1995. Later, he transitioned to the University of Cincinnati, shaping his professional trajectory. Having earned his PhD in 2001, he progressed steadily to attain the position of full professor by 2008. At the time of his passing, he held the esteemed titles of Professor of Environmental Engineering and Distinguished Research Professor (STEM).
Teaching/lecturing activities. In terms of teaching and lecturing, Dion conducted courses covering a spectrum of topics, including drinking water quality, treatment and reuse, advanced unit operations for water treatment, advanced oxidation technologies, and physico-chemical processes for water quality control. His research pursuits spanned diverse areas within water quality and treatment, with a particular emphasis on addressing contaminants of emerging concern. Dion's focus extended to environmental nanotechnology, catalysis, and nanosensing.
Notably, in recent years, he spearheaded various projects concentrated on the treatment, sensing, and monitoring of cyanotoxins in freshwater systems. These initiatives included endeavors in prominent bodies of water such as Lake Erie, as well as numerous inland lakes and rivers in Ohio. Dion's commitment to both teaching and innovative research underscored his dedication to advancing the understanding and management of water-related challenges.
Over the years, Dion served as a mentor to over 60 visiting professors, post-doctoral associates, and visiting graduate students. His mentorship played a pivotal role in shaping the academic and professional journeys of numerous individuals, contributing to the broader growth and development of the scientific community.
Research. Dion’s research has received millions of dollars in funding from organizations that include the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the US Geological Survey (USGS), the USAID, the Ohio Sea Grant, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration- Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (NOAA/CICEET) and DuPont.
Awards. He has received multiple awards and extensive scientific peer recognition. Examples are:
• The University of Cincinnati named him 2022 Distinguished Research Professor.
• Creativity Prize of the 10th Award Prince Sultan Ben Abdulaziz International Water Prize (2022)
• W. Wesley Eckenfelder Graduate Research Faculty Advisor Award (2021) by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, and the Environmental Engineering & Science Foundation for Outstanding Lifetime Achievements in the Advancement of Environmental Protection.
• Award of Achievement as Distinguished Scientist under the Chinese Academy of Sciences President's International Fellowship Initiative, January 2019.
• Elected Fellow of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP), October 2018.
• Elected Fellow of the International Water Association (IWA), July 2018.
• Royal Society of Chemistry, Sustainable Water Award, May 8, 2018.
• Elected Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences, January 2018.
• Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Distinguished Service Award, June 2017.
• Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, April 7, 2017.
• Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, The Marquis Who’s Who Publications Board, 2017.
• The 2014 ARCADIS / AEESP Frontier in Research Award, August 2014 (The award was renamed as the Walter J. Weber, Jr. AEESP Frontier in Research Award in 2018).
• UNESCO Co-Chair Professor on “Water Access and Sustainability”, September 2013.
Publications and invited talks. According to Google Scholar he had over 80,000 citations with an h-index of 146. Dion was a Highly Cited Researcher, Web of Science, Clarivate Analytics. He was strongly involved in the activities of the ACS-Environmental Division, and he organized several symposia during the SCS-Fall Conference. He had delivered over >100 invited plenary, and keynote lectures presentations and hundreds of conference presentations globally.
Editorial work. He was involved as Editor in several journals including Chemical Engineering Journal, Elsevier, a reference journal in Chemical Engineering receiving several thousands of submissions each year. He was also co-Editor in chief of Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering also from Elsevier. He was Editor of the Journal of Advanced Oxidation Technologies and Editor for the Journal of Environmental Engineering (ASCE).
Dion's legacy extends beyond his professional accomplishments, and his absence will be deeply felt by those who knew him. We express gratitude for the rich and meaningful life he shared with us. In addition to his noteworthy career, Dion was always open and generous with his time, willingly providing invaluable advice to students and researchers alike. His willingness to share his wisdom and experience leaves an indelible mark on the academic community, and his legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations.
Dion at ICRAPHE 2023, Barcelona October 10, as member of the Jury for the best oral presentation and poster awards to students. Conference and awards sponsored by PSIPW.
Dion, invited plenary speaker at CEST 2023, September 2, 2023, Athens, Greece. Conference sponsored by PSIPW.