Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering News

In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus James Gentry

In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus James Gentry


The Clark School's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) is sad to report the passing of Professor Emeritus James W. Gentry, 72, in his home state of Oklahoma in late October, 2012. Gentry, who specialized in aerosol mechanics, served on the faculty for 33 years.

ChBE sent the following letter to Gentry's family and friends for inclusion in his memorial service:

"On behalf of the University of Maryland community we wish to express our sadness at the passing of Professor James W. Gentry…He will long be remembered in his professional community for his brilliant scholarship, working at the interface between applied math, physics, and chemical engineering in the then emerging field of aerosol science and technology. His contributions to aerosol science were broad but were especially significant in the areas of aerosol electrophysics and particle size distribution dynamics. His fundamental work led to improved understanding of processes important for reducing air pollution, improving powder manufacturing, and improving sampling of aerosols relevant to occupational health. In addition to his scientific contributions, he was also one of the historians of the discipline, and he could trace the evolution of ideas and the people behind them back as far as the 1800s.

"On campus, Professor Gentry will be remembered as a teacher, mentor, scientist and colleague. He trained numerous successful scientists and engineers, who are working around the world in industry, laboratories and academia. In addition, he mentored many junior faculty [members], both in and outside of his scholarly field of research. He took awards, of which he won many, very seriously; and was proactive in nominating and securing recognition for many deserving colleagues and students…

"Professor Gentry was an avid collector of books, and upon his return to Oklahoma, he helped to establish a library in the department of his technical book collection that also includes books related to his other pursuits. We possibly are now the only engineering department in the U.S. with a library containing books on Ellsworth Kelly, Meissener porcelain, pulsed neutron research, and the French Revolution, and that's just from a single shelf.

"Professor Gentry was the first to jump to the chalkboard to walk a curious student through some elaborate mathematics, the first to suggest a lunch at Seven Seas, the nearby Chinese restaurant, or the first to talk about an art exhibit he had seen during his most recent trip abroad…He was diligent about staying in touch with us through e-mail, phone [calls] and in person at scientific conferences, and we appreciated his active interests in the goings on in our department. We have missed him greatly since he returned to his native Oklahoma several years ago; and more so now."

November 5, 2012


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