George Spyridon Mavrogenes

Life Dates
1924 – October 27, 2022
George Spyridon Mavrogenes, 98, of Geneva, Illinois, loving husband of Gail H. Mavrogenes, passed away peacefully at home in the early hours of October 27th. Beloved father of Peter (Mary) Mavrogenes and John (Sarah) Mavrogenes, proud and cherished grandfather of his namesake, George Spyridon (Jessica) Mavrogenes, Elizabeth Mavrogenes, Zoe Mavrogenes and Ulysses Mavrogenes. Dear stepfather of Tobey Cooper. Adored uncle to Antonia and Nicholaos Moropoulos, Spiros and Despina Mavrogenes. Fond brother of the late John Mavrogenes and Panaiota Moropoulos and brother-in-law to Dillu Ashby, treasured friend to Michael and Issa Lykoudis and Margaret Mottier.

Esteemed colleague to many fellow scientists at Argonne National Laboratory. Preceded in death by Nancy Ashby Mavrogenes, a Fulbright scholar at the American School of Classical Studies whom he met in Athens while serving as a captain in the Greek army. They were married in 1953, in the ancient church of the Kaisariani Monastery on the slopes of Mt. Hymettos in Athens. In 1941, George fought against the Nazis as they invaded Greece, eventually retreating to Crete where he was wounded and later escaped German captivity. After a treacherous journey back to Athens he became a member of the resistance for the duration of the war. After the end of WWII, civil war broke out in Greece, and he served as a captain in the national army where he was again wounded. Following a distinguished military career, he emigrated to the United States, and received his master’s degree in electrical engineering at Northwestern University. George became a proud US citizen in 1956, but always maintained his Hellenic spirit which permeated all aspects of his life. During the period of the military junta in Greece (1967-74), he formed a committee opposed to the military dictatorship in Greece and conducted a regular television show to enlighten and educate Chicagoans. In 1958 he began an illustrious career as an accelerator engineer-physicist at Argonne Lab. He was named a senior engineer-physicist in 1988 and remained an integral part of accelerator achievements at Argonne until his retirement in 1996. While on staff, he was a featured lecturer and expert on linear accelerators and low energy physics throughout the world

His most important and significant scientific contribution was as one of the principal physicists on the team that developed and built the 7GeV Advanced Photo Source (APS) for the U.S. Dept. of Energy at Argonne Lab. The APS is one of the most technically complex machines in the world which provides a premier national research facility for state-of-the-art scientific research in the structure of matter. Scientists from industry, educational institutions, and other national laboratories continue to use the unique properties of APS high energy x-ray beams to advance theories and research in physics, chemistry, biology, geosciences, medicine, and other fields of study. He was presented with the Argonne Pacesetter award in 1990 for his groundbreaking work on the APS which continues to be a national resource in maintaining and advancing America’s technological status and a fundamental understanding of the materials of which the world is comprised. Two Nobel prizes in chemistry have been awarded for work performed in part at the APS.

The Advance Photon Source has also been critical to the effort to combat the pandemic. Much of the world’s collected data on the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has come from the work performed by APS research teams from around the globe. The APS is used to precisely determine the shape and structure of the proteins that make up the virus to lay the groundwork for drug therapies and vaccines.

David Moncton, founding associate director for the APS at Argonne Lab said, “The tremendous success of the APS and it’s remarkable contributions to science are due to George and a handful of the initial team. He was loved by all his colleagues.”