Guido Sandri

February 28, 1930 —  July 19, 2013

Guido Sandri, a highly esteemed and boundlessly enthusiastic professor at Boston University died on July 19, after a long illness. Most recently he was a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and continued after his formal retirement as an emeritus professor and adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Boston University's Metropolitan College. Sandri has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed research papers in statistical mechanics, kinetic theory, plasma physics, turbulence theory, and other areas.

Guido Sandri was born in Mexico on February 28, 1930 where his father was an engineer and his mother an artist. His family moved to Italy before the war and he grew up in Milan.

He attended Harvard University from 1949-1953, working under Prof. Edward Purcell, and receiving a B.A. in Physics with a minor in Mathematics. Sandri then pursued graduate studies in Physics at M.I.T. from 1953-1957, receiving the Ph.D. under Prof. V. Weisskopf.

Sandri's postgraduate employment began in 1958 as a Visiting Scientist at the Berkeley Lawrence Radiation Laboratory where he worked on elementary particle physics. He then went to the Institute for Advanced Studies from 1958-1960 where he worked on elementary particle physics and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and was a research assistant for Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. He then began work as a Senior Scientist at Aeronautical Research Associates of Princeton, where he worked on turbulence theory, non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, wave propagation, and astrophysics until 1982. After a year at Instituto Di Mathematica del Politecnico in Milan, Italy (1982-1983), Sandri took a position as a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Boston University, where he worked until his retirement in 1998. Sandri continued to be very active in research and teaching well into his retirement years as an emeritus professor and as an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at the Metropolitan College of Boston University.

Although his primary research areas were statistical mechanics, kinetic theory, and wave propagation, his research interests were very broad and he made significant contributions in atmospheric radiative transfer, the solution of inverse problems, modeling of galactic structure, generalized functions, chaos theory, and Hamiltonian dynamics. Sandri's enthusiasm and energy made him always ready to consider a new physics or mathematics problem and he always had something valuable to contribute. Sandri's most referenced works were two papers on the foundations of nonequilibrium statistical mechanics both published in 1963 in the Annals of Physics.

Sandri was a beloved educator of undergraduate engineers, his ratings by students placing him as one of the best teachers in the College of Engineering. One of his admiring students described Sandri as an Italian antidepressant. However, in our view, his greatest contributions in education were in teaching and mentoring graduate students (and many junior faculty as well). He was a pillar of graduate education, running the graduate survey course in mathematics and advanced courses in fluid mechanics and propulsion as well as supervising thesis work of many students who went on to have very successful careers. As remarked by a colleague who had Sandri on his Ph.D. thesis committee, "The first word that comes to mind when I think about Guido is joy. He brought joy to his research, to his artwork, to the college of engineering, and to all of us with whom he interacted. In discussions on any topic, Guido was somehow able to convince you that you were his intellectual equal. A remarkable piece of generosity." This generosity with his time, energy, and ideas was one of the hallmarks of Sandri as an educator and as a scientific colleague.

The breadth of Sandri's interests extended far beyond technical matters. Sandri had deep interests in philosophy, literature, music, and art. He was an avid painter and his works hang with pride in conspicuous locations in the homes of many of his colleagues. During his time living in Princeton, he would commute by train on weekends to New York City to teach painting at CCNY.

The term "renaissance man" may be overused in many circumstances, but in this case it seems apt. Guido Sandri touched the lives of his students, scientific colleagues, and many friends in the broader community with his singular intelligence, infectious enthusiasm, energy, and generosity. He will be sorely missed by all of us.

Sandri is survived by his wife, Willma Nash Sandri.

Submitted by:
Robert Hohlfeld, Wavelet Technologies, Inc. and Boston University
Richard Lovelace, Cornell University

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Submitted by: Richard Lovelace


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Scitation: Guido Sandri