Plazek's plastics: Pitt professor honored for materials research

May 11, 2006

Donald J. Plazek, emeritus professor of materials science and engineering in the University of Pittsburgh's School of Engineering, has been selected as a 2006 Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE). The purpose of the fellows program is to honor select PMSE members who have made significant contributions to the science and engineering of polymeric, or plastic, materials.

Plazek studies the relationship between polymers' structure and function. He is well known for his work on polymers' "viscoelastic" behavior. Viscoelastic materials behave like elastic solids (silly putty) at low temperatures and viscous liquids (honey) at high temperatures.

After receiving the Ph.D. degree in 1957 from the University of Wisconsin, Plazek spent nine years as a fellow in independent research at the Mellon Institute of Pittsburgh. In 1967, he joined Pitt's Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (now the Department of Materials Science and Engineering), where he became a professor in 1975 and emeritus professor in 1993. He has served as an associate editor of Rubber Chemistry and Technology and as a member of the advisory board of the Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics, and has authored more than 150 publications.

Plazek's many honors and awards include the George Stafford Whitby Award from the Rubber Division of the ACS and the Society of Rheology's Bingham Medal. A member of the ACS and a fellow of the American Physics Society, he has held fellowships at the University of Glasgow and Kyoto University.
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University of Pittsburgh

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