Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division: Archival Website (through 2017)

2012 Distinguished Service Award


Leslie (Les) H. Sperling, Prof. Emeritus, Lehigh University, Depts. of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering is named the 2012 PMSE Distinguished Service Awardee.

Les received the following degrees: B.S. Chem., U. Fla., 1954, M.S., Duke U. Chem., 1957, Ph.D., Chem., Duke U., 1959.  His PhD thesis topic was “Solution properties of cellulose esters.”  He worked from  Oct. 1958-June, 1965, at Buckeye Cellulose Corp. and had five publications on cellulose problems.  From July 1965-July 1967, he was a Post Doc at Princeton University with Prof. Tobolsky.   He moved to Lehigh University in 1967 and retired in 2002 as Professor of Chemical Engineering.  In 1987, Les also was named Professor of Materials Science and Engineering.  During the larger part of his time at Lehigh, he was highly active in research, most importantly, interpenetrating polymer networks, IPNs.  Other topics included the mechanical and morphological aspects of polymers, especially failure mechanisms.  This research was done with 55 graduate students, post-docs, and visiting scientists, resulting in 271 publications, 7 patents, and 15 books.  The books include both edited works based on both Poly and PMSE symposia, and authored books.  Most recently, he published the 4th edition of his textbook, "Introduction to Physical Polymer Science," with Wiley, 2004.  While in retirement, he remains active, both in the ACS PMSE Division, and at Lehigh. In the ACS, he was also part of Lehigh U's Center for Polymer Science and Engineering, and served as Education Chairman. 

His efforts at ACS have included the POLY/PMSE Polymer Education Committee and the ACS Nomenclature Committee, as well as serving PMSE as Member at Large.  With the Poly Ed. Committee, his main activity has been interacting with chemistry book authors, trying to get them to include more polymer topics.  Les was selected as a PMSE Fellow in 2002 and as an ACS Fellow in 2010.  He presented a paper recently at the ACS History Division, which will be a published book in a few months.  The topic:  “The History of IPNs, traced back to 1910”.  He continues as an active reviewer of journal manuscripts and also continues to teach, when needed, at Lehigh. 


Past Distinguished Service Award Winners:

Roy W. Tess(1993)
Ray Dickie(2004)
E. E. McSweeney(1994)
Larry F. Thompson(2005)
Louis J. Nowacki(1995)
S. Richard Turner(2006)
Kenneth N. Edwards(1996)
George R. Pilcher(2007)
Clara D. Craver(1999)
David J. Lohse(2008)
Sandy Labana(2000)
Murrae J. Bowden
John Lupinski(2001)
Michael Jaffe(2010)
Charles E. Carraher(2002)
Elsa Reichmanis(2011)
Theodore Provder(2003)
 Leslie H. Sperling(2012)