Symposium to Honor Richard S. Stein, Goessmann Professor of Chemistry Emeritus

Richard S. Stein

The Stein Symposium, a full day of talks, research presentations and fellowship honoring Richard S. Stein, Goessmann Professor of Chemistry emeritus, will be Friday, Aug. 21.

The 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. event at the Integrated Sciences Building is open to the public at no charge. Lunch at the Campus Center is limited to registered participants.

Stein and Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy will deliver opening remarks.

Organized by the departments of chemistry and polymer science and engineering, the Stein Symposium will be an occasion to reconnect with alumni and colleagues and reminisce about earlier times at UMass Amherst. It will also provide an opportunity to see how the campus has developed and to learn about the current research and future directions of some of Stein's former students, postdocs and collaborators.

The program includes memories of Stein as friend, collaborator and mentor, as well as a number of reports on current research.

A native of Long Island, N.Y., Stein studied chemistry at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, where he made some of the first light-scattering studies of polymer dimensions in solution. After graduating in 1945, he went to Princeton to study polymers, earning his doctorate in 1948. After a brief period away, he returned to Princeton in 1949 to work on plastics.

Stein came to UMass Amherst as an associate professor in 1950 and launched the polymer program.

Stein developed the university’s first advanced physical chemistry courses in quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and polymer science, and initiated graduate research in the study of the structure-property relationships of polymers using light and particle scattering.

He is also credited with revolutionizing research funding management at the campus in the 1950s. Grant dollars from federal agencies went directly to the state treasury, not the Amherst campus. With dean of science Charles Alexander, Stein helped pass a bill to let research money come directly to the campus.

Stein became Commonwealth Professor, and in 1961 he founded both the Polymer Research Institute and the Research Computing Center.

In 1980, the chemistry department awarded him the Charles A. Goessmann Chair in Chemistry and provided three new professorial positions in polymer science and engineering. In the 1990s he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

Thanks to Stein’s expertise and active promotion of the campus, with Congressman Silvio O. Conte’s help the university received $56 million in the 1980s to build a national polymer research center.

Over his career Stein mentored more than 140 master’s and doctoral candidates.

In 1999 Stein received the highest honor bestowed by the Material Research Society, the von Hippel Award, the first polymer scientist to receive it. The society recognized Stein for his 50 years of research on how polymer materials orient, crystallize and deform and saluted him for originating the field of rheo-optics, “which encompasses simultaneous real-time measurement of optical properties and polymer melt rheology.”