Richard S. Stein - Hall of Fame Entry
Author: Plastics Academy Staff
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Richard S. Stein
Embodies a unique combination of sterling personal research, leadership in polymer education, and monumental technical accomplishment that has helped make the plastics industry what it is today.
Stein has studied the relationship between polymer structure and properties over a 45-year period. As an undergraduate at the (then) Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in the famous laboratory of the late Herman Marx, he constructed one of the first apparati for the study of the angular dependence of light scattering from a polymer solution to making one of the first measurements of the radius of gyration of a polymer molecule.
Stein joined the Chemistry Department of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1950. He initiated the first graduate courses in quantum and statistical mechanics, chemical kinetics, and polymer physical chemistry. Over 150 students have received doctoral degrees under Stein's direction, many of whom have assumed leading positions in industry and academia.
The theory and experimental techniques for his work on the use of light scattering for the study of the morphology of solid polymers are now widely used in industrial and academic laboratories. Stein also combined the techniques of x-ray diffraction, birefringence, infrared spectroscopy, and small-angle light scattering, to the study of the relaxation mechanisms of solid polymers, developing a science now known as "rheo-optics."
More recently, he has pioneered the use of synchrotron radiation for polymer studies and the use of neutron reflectivity for the study of surfaces and interfaces.
Although he retired from the University of Massachusetts in 1992, he was rehired at "one-third time" and remains active in international education activities, including the development of video courses in Electro-Optical Properties of Polymers and related subjects.
Stein is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Stein received his BS in chemistry in 1945 from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. In 1948 he received his MA and in 1949 his PhD in physical chemistry from Princeton. He also was honored with a Doctorate of Science, Honoris Causa, from University of Massachusetts in 1992.
While his educational travels still take him around the world, he currently resides in Amherst, Massachusetts with his wife, Judith. They have four children, Linda, Anne, Carol, and Lisa, and four grandchildren.