Dr. James Lindsay White remembered for contributions to his field and education


Dr. James Lindsay White, the Harold A. Morton Professor of Polymer Engineering, passed away Nov. 26 in Germany. He was 71.

"He was a pivotal figure in defining the field of polymer engineering," said a colleague, Dr. Miko Cakmak, distinguished professor of polymer engineering. "Professor White founded two polymer engineering programs: the first at the University of Tennessee and the second here at UA."

He also founded the International Polymer Processing Society that holds at least two annual meetings around the world, Cakmak said. As a leader in his field, he founded two journals: The Journal of Polymer Engineering and The International Polymer Processing Journal.

"He was a valuable mentor and adviser to countless students and visiting scientists around the world," Cakmak added. "His vast knowledge of science, engineering, technology and particularly history benefited those of us privileged to be associated with him. He will be sorely missed."

White is among the select few highly cited researchers in the world; he authored 500 scientific publications and eight books.

White is survived by his wife, Alganesh Tekeste, and by two stepchildren, Samuel Tekeste of Darmstadt, Germany, and Hiwat Tekeste of London, Great Britain.

Click here for Dr. White's biography.

1938 - 2009

James Lindsay White was born to Robert Lindsay and Margaret (Young) White in Brooklyn on January 3, 1938. His fatherÂ’s family originated from Scotland in the 1880Â’s from a long line of coal miners and later machine shop owners. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School and later studied Chemical Engineering at the Brooklyn Polytechnical Institute. He then joined the Department of Chemical Engineering in the research group of Prof. A.B. Metzner at the University of Delaware and finished his MS degree in 1962 and PhD degree in 1965. There they jointly developed the now famous White-Metzner rheological model which is until today widely used for polymer processing simulation. Prof. WhiteÂ’s early career started in industry working for the Uniroyal Company as a research engineer and then a group leader from 1963-1967 where he acquired his lifelong interest in rubber science and engineering to which he has made numerous contributions.

In 1967 Prof. White joined the University of Tennessee as an associate professor and quickly rose through the academic ranks to become a professor, ultimately becoming the originator and professor in charge of the Polymer Science and Engineering M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs. His interest took a turn into experimental and theoretical rheology of filled polymers and process induced polymer structuring and he rapidly dove into the new areas of polymer melt/solution, fiber spinning, film blowing and biaxial stretching processes as well as injection molding. During this time, his contributions expanded into liquid crystalline polymers where he pioneered unique processes to manufacture biaxially oriented lyotropic liquid crystalline films and developed fundamental understanding of solidification from the solution processing. While at the University of Tennessee, he founded the Journal of Polymer Engineering of which he was Editor-in-Chief until 1984.

In 1983, Prof. White moved to The University of Akron where he founded the Institute and Department of Polymer Engineering, serving as both Center Director and Department Chair. At Akron, he turned his attention to rubber processing and compounding, experimentally studying and simulating flow in internal mixers and pin barrel extruders as well as twin screw extruders without and with chemical reactions taking place in the latter process. These activities culminated with the first commercially successful Akro-Twin software to simulate flow in twin screw extrusion.

It was during this time, Dr. White originated a new professional society now known as the Polymer Processing Society. From its beginning in 1985, this society was organized to be international in character. Shortly after formation of the society, the new journal International Polymer Processing was initiated and Prof. White successfully served as its Editor-in-Chief from 1986 until 2004 when he passed the baton to a new generation of editorial team.

Prof. White published over 500 papers in international journals. He has also published eight books on subjects ranging from rheology, twin screw extrusion, rubber (rubber processing), polyolefins and polymer compounds and thermoplastic elastomers.

Prof. White was a pioneer in establishing Polymer Engineering as an academic discipline. Various polymer societies, institutions and industries around the globe have recognized his many research contributions in both rubber and plastics. Prof. White was a man of encyclopedic knowledge and erudition and is the most cited researcher at the University of Akron. Prof. White received numerous awards over his career for his accomplishments, including: Bingham Medal of the Society of Rheology; Yuko-Sho Award, Society of Rheology, Japan 1984; Society of Plastics Engineers, Education Award 1987; Research Award, Society of Plastics Engineers, 1992; Heinz Herrmann Twin Screw Extrusion award of the Extrusion Division of Society of Plastics Engineers; and in 2009, the Charles Goodyear Medal from the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society.

Most recently, Prof. White served The University of Akron as the Harold A. Morton Professor of Polymer Engineering.

The University of Akron will hold a memorial service for Prof. White.