Vicki Flaris, an activist with the Society of Plastics Engineers who was SPE president for 2007-2008, died Feb. 6. She was 53.
Her husband, Paris Rapp, was by her side.
As a chemistry professor of Bronx Community College, part of the City University of New York, Flaris regularly took members of the school's SPE student section to Antec conferences. In 2018, she spearheaded a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for scholarships in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, which will help 575 Bronx Community College students over its five-year period — one of the largest of its kind ever awarded to a community college.
"Vicki lived her life with exceptional grace, integrity and strength, both personally and professionally," her obituary said.
A native of Australia, Flaris immigrated to the United States in 1997 with her husband to further her career as a senior research scientist and global marketing manager. Her doctoral thesis at the University of Melbourne was on improving the impact toughness of polypropylene at low temperatures.
In her industrial career, Flaris worked at Imperial Chemical Industries plc, DuPont Co., Huntsman Corp. and BASF Corp. She helped develop a range of new products, like the Xbox game console, products for the siding industry and automotive and transportation, according to a Plastics News story when she became SPE president.
In her speech at Antec 2007, Flaris, who spoke four languages, emphasized globalization and international growth.
She was a substitute assistant professor before becoming an assistant professor in the chemistry department at Bronx Community College in 2004, later becoming a full professor.
"I believe in mentoring because I believe it's important to share experiences, to have role models in the industry, to follow in the footsteps of someone who you admire and for students to love the area of research," she said in the 2007 Plastics News story.
Flaris is survived by her husband and their son, Alexander.
"She was an inspiring person to many, many people," Paris Rapp said of his wife. Visitation will be Feb. 15 from 6-9 p.m. at Tuttle Funeral Home in Randolph, N.J. The funeral service will be at Saint Andrew in Randolph on Feb. 16 at 9:30 a.m.