Dr. Alan Neville Gent, the Dr. Harold A. Morton Professor Emeritus of Polymer Physics and Polymer Engineering at the University of Akron, died peacefully at home Thursday evening, September 20, 2012 in his 84th year. |
Dr. Gent is survived by his extended family, including his wife, Ginger Lee; former wife, Jean Gent; three sons, Martin, Michael and Andrew; 15 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Throughout his life, Dr. Gent was known for his warmth, humor and generosity. He was a devoted family man and friend to all who knew him.
Dr. Gent was born on November 11, 1927, to Harry and Gladys Gent, and raised with younger brother, David, in Leicester, England. He earned degrees in Physics and Math before receiving his Ph.D. in Science from the University of London in 1955. In 1961, he joined the faculty of The University of Akron as Professor and Assistant Director of the Institute of Rubber Research which evolved into the Maurice Morton Institute of Polymer Science and eventually became part of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. He spent the next half century as a pioneer in his field. Internationally known, Dr. Gent was widely regarded as the foremost expert on the fracture mechanics of rubber and plastics. His research yielded significant contributions to the world's understanding of the physics of adhesion and the fracture of rubbery, crystalline glassy polymers and had the potential of impacting nearly every rubber or plastic product developed today. Dr. Gent served on the 11-member National Research Council panel that oversaw the redesign of the space shuttle's solid-fuel rockets in the aftermath of the Challenger explosion. He also served as Consultant and Scientific Advisor to The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company's Research Division for more than 50 years.
Dr. Gent's work in the fields of polymer science and rheology have been recognized around the world by the many awards he received, including the Polymer Physics Prize of the American Physical Society, the Mobay Award of the Plastics Industry, the Bingham Medal of the Society of Rheology, the Colwyn Award of the Society of Plastics Engineers, the 3M Award in Adhesion Science of the Adhesion Society, NASA Public Service Medal, the Whitby Award of the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society, the Charles Goodyear Medal of the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society, the Tire Technology Lifetime Achievement Award and the Tire Technology International Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1991, he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Dr. Gent was invited to address universities, corporations and professional society meetings around the world and served as a visiting professor at Queen Mary College at the University of London, McGill University in Canada and the University of Minnesota. He also presided over the High-Polymer Physics Division of the American Physical Society, the Society of Rheology, and was one of the co-founders of The Adhesion Society. Dr. Gent remained active in the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering until his passing. In honor of his international recognition, his noteworthy achievements in education and research and his distinguished service to The University of Akron, its' Board of Trustees, in May of this year, voted unanimously to change the name of the Ohio Research Scholar Professor position to the "Alan N. Gent Ohio Research Scholar Professor of Polymers."
In addition to his passion for science, Dr. Gent's hobbies included scouting, sailing and collecting books. He attained the rank of Queen Scout in England, and served for many years as scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts in both England and Silver Lake.
Visiting hours for family and friends will be held at the Church in Silver Lake, 2951 Kent Road on Thursday, October 11 from 4 to 6 p.m. (330) 928-2991. Donations in his memory may be made to the Boy Scout Great Trail Council at 1601 South Main St., Akron 44301, for use at Camp Manatoc, or the Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties, 501 West Market St., Akron 44303.
Published in Akron Beacon Journal on Sept. 30, 2012