The Michigan Engineer News Center

In Memoriam: Stuart W. Churchill

Dr. Stuart W. Churchill, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and former University of Michigan faculty member.| Short Read
EnlargeMichigan Chemical Engineering logo

Dr. Stuart W. Churchill, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and former University of Michigan faculty member, died on March 24, 2016 at the age of 95. As an embodiment of his entire life and career, he was working on what will be his final manuscript, “Improved Algebraic, Numerical, and Graphical Representations in Fluid Mechanics,” a week prior to his passing.

Professor Churchill was born in 1920 in Imlay City, Michigan. He was a freshman at the University of Michigan in 1938; where he played the clarinet in the marching band, and researched a project on retrograde phase-behavior with Donald L. Katz. He went on to obtain his BSE degrees in both chemical engineering and mathematics in 1942. Immediately after college, he went on to work for Shell Oil Company, and then to a technical supervisor role at Frontier Chemical Company.

Professor Churchill returned to the University of Michigan in 1947 for graduate work, and then completed his PhD in 1952. He began teaching at the U of M in 1950 and was promoted to professor in 1957. He served as chairman of the Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering from 1962 to 1967. At the end of his term, Stuart accepted the Carl V. S. Patterson scholarly chair at the University of Pennsylvania. He received the S. Reid Warren Jr. Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1978, and one of Pennsylvania’s first Medals for Distinguished Service in 1993. He advised 25 doctoral students at the University of Michigan and another 20 at the University of Pennsylvania.

Stuart was a leader in the fields of combustion, heat transfer, and fluid dynamics for over half a century. He was a pioneer in the use of computers for modeling chemical and thermal processes and in the development of comprehensive correlating equations based on asymptotic solutions. He published six books and authored over 300 papers, 110 of which were after he retired in 1990. Stuart was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1974, and in 2002, he won the NAE Founders Award for “outstanding leadership in research, education, and professional service, and for continuing contributions in combustion, heat transfer, and fluid dynamics for over a half a century.”

In celebration of his 90th birthday, Stuart was honored with a Festschrift in the August 2011 issue of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, a leading archival journal in chemical engineering. The Festschrift noted, “Stuart’s breadth extends far beyond that of most engineering science researchers,” a fact that is reflected in his winning numerous awards including the AIChE Professional Progress Award and the ASME Max Jacob Award in Heat Transfer.

Through the decades of scholarly mentorship of colleagues and students on matters of science and technology, Stuart also enjoyed a fruitful life in his love of music, art, literature, nature, travel, fine food and wine, sports, and verbose political discussions. In his passing and as a true man of science, Professor Churchill’s body will be contributed for scientific studies. He will be greatly missed by many. Stuart is survived by his wife Renate and his children Stuart L., Diana, Catherine, and Emily.

Michigan Chemical Engineering logo
Portrait of Sandy Swisher


Sandy Swisher
Communications & Alumni Relations Coordinator

Chemical Engineering

(734) 764-7413

3118 Dow

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read