Donald R. Paul
Melvin H. Gertz Regents Chair in Chemical Engineering
Director, Texas Materials Institute
University of Texas at Austin
PhDChE ’65, MSChE ’63
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently tested cars in low-speed, rear-end crashes. A Saturn model performed the best, receiving about $400 less in damages than other cars tested. This finding may be thanks in part to Donald R. Paul, a University of Texas at Austin professor whose work in polymer blends helps the auto maker construct strong bumpers and other automotive components.
Paul’s career in polymers began while he was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since obtaining his doctorate degree in chemical engineering in 1965, Paul has explored the widely used applications of polymer blends and the relatively new innovations of nanocomposites.
Currently, Paul’s research efforts also include membranes for separations, drug delivery and packaging, and polymer processing. His research in polymer blends deals with the thermodynamics of polymer-polymer interactions, reactive compatibility of multiphase mixtures, rubber toughening and polymeric nanocomposites.
Before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, Paul worked as a research chemical engineer for two years to gain a better understanding of the applications of polymer studies and to learn what his future students would do after completing their education. In 1967, he was hired as an assistant professor; he became the chair of the chemical engineering department in 1977.
Today, Paul is the Melvin H. Gertz Regents Chair in Chemical Engineering and the director of the Texas Materials Institute. Paul serves as an editor for Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research and has written and edited several textbooks. He also serves on editorial boards for the Journal for Polymer Science, Polymer Engineering and Science, Polymer, and the Journal of Membrane Science, among others. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Paul met his wife, Sally, now deceased, while attending UW-Madison. The couple has two children, Mark and Ann. In his free time, Paul enjoys hiking, boating and traveling.