Russell named Distinguished Professor

By Daniel J. Fitzgibbons

Professor Thomas P. Russell of the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering has been appointed a Distinguished Professor by President Jack M. Wilson. The appointment was approved May 5 by the Board of Trustees.

The designation recognizes Russell for outstanding academic distinction. He was recommended for the honor by Chancellor John V. Lombardi and interim Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Charlena Seymour.

“Dr. Russell has established himself as a world-renowned leader in the field of polymer science,” wrote Lombardi and Seymour in their letter endorsing the appointment. “He has been awarded numerous grants from both industry and government and he is credited with receiving enhanced support from the National Science Foundation used to transform the Materials Science Laboratory into a broad-based NSF-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.”

The chancellor and provost cited letters of evaluation solicited from scientists at Kyoto, Harvard and Cornell universities and the California Institute of Technology. Those reviews described his work as “path-breaking,” “seminal,” and “fundamental,” noted Lombardi and Seymour.

Russell, who received his Ph.D. from the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering in 1979, joined the faculty in 1996 after 15 years as a researcher with IBM. He was appointed director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center in 1997.

His research focuses on polymer-based nanoscopic structures and nanoparticle assemblies; electrohydrodynamic instabilities in thin polymer films; surface and interfacial properties of polymers; polymer morphology; kinetics of phase transitions; and supercritical fluid-polymer interactions.

During his career, Russell has published more than 350 refereed papers, including 150 since joining the faculty. His work has been published in Macromolecules, the leading journal in the field of materials research. His papers also have been published in the journals Nature, Science and Physical Review Letters.

Russell is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. He serves on advisory boards of Advances in Chemical Physics and the Journal of Polymer Science, Physics Edition. He is associate editor of Macromolecules.

His honors include the Dutch Polymer Award and the Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science and Engineering from the American Chemical Society.

In his letter of recommendation, Leon Osterweil, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said, “I cannot recall ever seeing a faculty personnel case that was more replete with so many testimonials, with such high praise, from so many places of high repute.”