University of Delaware

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Norman Wagner, Unidel Robert L. Pigford Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. Wagner recounts his childhood in Pennsylvania and his undergraduate experience at Carnegie Mellon and his decision to study chemical engineering at Princeton. He discusses his graduate research at Los Alamos and Sandia and his postdoctoral research in Germany.  The bulk of the interview covers Wagner’s wide-ranging research agenda at the University of Delaware.  He discusses his strategic partnership with the NIST Center for Neutron Research, and the range of commercial endeavors that he has been involved in as a result of his research in soft matter physics. Wagner explains his work in biomedical engineering, and his collaboration with NASA on Mars-related research.  At the end of the interview, Wagner provides a broad-based explanation of rheology and its development as a distinct scientific field.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Thomas H. Epps, III, the Thomas and Kipp Gutshall Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. Epps describes his involvement and leadership in several research ventures in materials at Delaware and some of the challenges regarding lab work during the coronavirus pandemic. He recounts his childhood in Virginia and the influence of his parents, both of whom were university professors, and he discusses his early interests in math and sciences in high school which culminated in a formative project at NASA Langley. Epps describes his undergraduate research at MIT where he pursued a degree in chemical engineering and where he solidified his multidisciplinary approach to the field. He explains his decision to attend the University of Minnesota for graduate school, where he worked under the direction of Frank Bates on polymers and nanostructure membranes. Epps describes his choice not to enter industry after graduate school, and he explains his decision to conduct postdoctoral work with Mike Fasolka on polymer-thin films at NIST. He explains the circumstances leading to him joining the faculty at Delaware, and he describes his excitement at the prospect of serving on and creating many research endeavors across the university. Epps discusses his broad interests in biotechnology and fuel cells, and he describes Delaware’s leadership role in its partnership with the Department of Energy in pursuing sustainable energy sources. He describes what chemical engineers can contribute to Covid-19 research, and he reflects on the ways STEM has, and has not, become more inclusive and diverse over the course of his career. At the end of the interview, Epps describes the ranges of research endeavors in the material sciences that excite him most as he looks to the future.