Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tom Kakovitch receives Founders' Day Award

Former CAUSES professor of Environmental Sciences, Tom Kakovitch, was honored for his 43-year service to the University of the District of Columbia, at the 2016 Annual Founders' Day  Celebration, receiving the Dr. Cleveland L. Dennard Distinguished Service Award. Although Prof. Kakovitch retired from  the University in 2015, he remains a friend of  CAUSES. His miniaturized Flo-Vex aerator is key to our aquaponics system and therefore an integral part of our Urban Food Hubs Solution to Food Insecurity. In response to the honor, Prof. Kakovitch would like to share the following heartfelt message:

Thank you very much the honor of being selected for the 2016 Distinguished Service Award. This award is especially meaningful to me because I had the honor of working with President Dennard when I first joined Washington Technical Institute in 1972 as one of the founding faculty members of the Environmental Sciences program.

I was supposed to be on loan from the Environmental Protection Agency where I worked at the time as a founding scientist on the air pollution. As most of you know, the load lasted 43 year until May 2015.

What has always guided me during all these years is my passion for solving environmental problems, and for improving our natural environment. I had been as convinced back then as I am now, that there is no better way to learn how to do this than to study nature itself.  This is why I always impressed on my students the importance of studying physics and mathematics, which is the universal language of nature.

When we first became the University of the District of Columbia, we were approximately 12,000 students. A long way from where we are today. We had an extremely successful school of agriculture, a veterinary program, and close to 500 students in Environmental Sciences alone.

Yet, despite the challenges, there are some things that are going in the right direction and that I think will get us back on track in terms of the University’s enrollment. It took the formation of CAUSES and the closer collaboration with our landgrant programs for me to discover a whole variety of new applications for my ideas and inventions.  My water aeration technology, for example, was invented to improve energy efficiency in power plants. Now we are using it for fish farming and hydroponics.

There is a lesson here: solutions always come from collaboration across different fields; solutions always come from a desire to solve real world problems; solutions always come from just doing things. Unless you try you will never find a solution.

This is what Urban Sustainability is all about, and believe me, it is the most important global issue of today; 80% of the global population lives in cities, which comprise less than 2% of the global land area; we must pay attention to that and find solutions that make this kind of imbalance sustainable.

So here’s to my colleagues – those who spent as much time here as I have, and those who joined the University much more recently:  work together, look for practical solutions; and just do it.  I for one intend to use my so-called retirement to continue to do just that.

Thank you for this honor. 

Continue reading for Prof. Kakovitch's biography, as it appeared in the 2016 Founders' Day program.
Thomas Sergeiovitch Kakovitch is the owner and Principal of Kakovitch Industries LLC, a technology company dedicated to improving the environmental and social conditions of our planet and its finite resources. Prior to forming KI, Kakovitch served as Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences at Washington Technical Institute and later at the University of the District of Columbia for forty-three years.

He is a prolific inventor who holds twenty-six patents focused on environmental quality, productivity, and pollution remediation. His inventions range from air ejectors for power plants, to water quality improvements through oxygenation, to fuel efficiency improvements in shipping, and most recently high efficiency fish farming, aquaponics, and hydroponics.  Kakovitch has lectured has consulted with governments and private sector partners around the world including in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Israel and Germany. 

Kakovitch received undergraduate and graduate degrees in aeronautical engineering and environmental engineering from the University of Maryland and previously studied in Strasburg and Paris, France. Born in Russia, Kakovitch grew up in Iran and immigrated to the United States in 1964 from France. He is fluent in English, Russian, French, Farsi, and Aramaic, but his primary language and first love is Mathematics, which he calls the language of Nature. Kakovitch is the Chair of the Board of Terra Forma, and Director of Applied Sciences of the distinguished McLean Project.

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