Longtime polymer professor earns high honor from American Chemical Society


Dr. Roderic Quirk, a polymer science research professor and distinguished professor emeritus in the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, will receive the highest honor from the American Chemical Society’s Rubber Division next year.

Quirk, who was a professor here for 27 years, will be the recipient of the 2019 Charles Goodyear Medal, which honors “individuals for outstanding invention, innovation, or development, which has resulted in a significant change or contribution to the nature of the rubber industry.” 

“I am honored and humbled by the award announcement for the 2019 Charles Goodyear Medal of the ACS Rubber Division,” said Quirk. “I attribute my accomplishments to the outstanding opportunity that The University of Akron and the world-renowned Department of Polymer Science graduate research and education program provided to me in terms of outstanding, stimulating research colleagues, research support, facilities and ability to attract outstanding graduate students, as well as research support from both government and industry.”

Quirk was announced as the medalist during the first day of the ACS Rubber Division’s International Elastomer Conference, held Oct. 9-11 in Louisville, Ky. He’ll accept the award in the spring.

The honoree’s expertise in anionic polymerization has been “highly valued by the rubber industry as evidenced by his patent activity and lectures and consulting with rubber companies,” according to a letter supporting his nomination.

Quirk, who has 35 patents, has delivered 126 lectures at many of the major elastomer and tire producers around the globe. His more than 350 publications have been cited more than 7,100 times in the open literature. He has received significant research support from major rubber producers, such as Exxon, Mobil Chemical, B.F. Goodrich, Texaco and Goodyear, among others. He’s also served as a consultant for many of those companies.

He has also delivered numerous invited lectures at ACS Symposia and Gordon Research Conferences. 

Quirk, originally of Detroit, received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.; and master’s and doctorate degrees in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois, followed by two years of postdoctoral research at the University of Pittsburgh and Mellon Institute.

He was a faculty member in the chemistry department at the University of Arkansas for nine years. He joined UA as a professor of polymer science in l983 after five years as a senior research scientist at Michigan Molecular Institute in Midland, Mich.

In 1996, Quirk was appointed Kumho Professor of Polymer Science and also distinguished professor of polymer science at UA. His service included being chair in the Department of Polymer Science, and he served as interim director of the Institute of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. He retired from UA in 2010.

The Charles Goodyear Medal was established in 1941, named to perpetuate the memory of Charles Goodyear as the discoverer of the vulcanization of rubber.


Media contact: Alex Knisely, 330-972-6477 or aknisely@uakron.edu.

Roderic Quirk

Dr. Roderic Quirk