Morton M. Denn (taught at the College of Chemistry from 1981-1999) was born in Passaic, New Jersey on July 7, 1939. He received his BSE in Chemical Engineering from Princeton in 1961 (where he carried out a senior thesis on normal stress measurements with the 1988 Bingham medalist, Bill Schowalter) and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1964. After graduating, he accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Art Metzner (the 1977 Bingham medalist) at the University of Delaware for a year. He then joined the Delaware faculty as Assistant Professor of Statistics & Computer Science and Chemical Engineering in 1965, subsequently becoming an Associate (1968) and Full (1971) Professor of Chemical Engineering, before being named the Allan P. Colburn Professor in 1977. In 1981 he moved to a new position as Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he remained until 1999, serving as Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1991 to 1994. While at UC Berkeley, he also held positions at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as Program Leader for Polymers and Composites in the Center for Advanced Materials from 1983 to 1999 and as Head of Materials Chemistry in the Materials Sciences Division from 1995 to 1998.
Denn moved to the City College of the City University of New York in 1999 to take the position of Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering. He was named the Albert Einstein Professor of Science and Engineering in 2001, as well as Professor of Physics, before moving to emeritus status in 2014. Additionally, from 2000 to 2015, Denn succeeded Andy Acrivos (1994 Bingham Medalist) as the Director of the Benjamin Levich Institute for Physico-Chemical Hydrodynamics. Throughout his career, Denn held numerous visiting positions, including such diverse institutions as MIT, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Caltech, University of Melbourne, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, and the University of Amsterdam.
Denn’s research accomplishments in rheology and non-Newtonian fluid mechanics cover a very broad range of areas both of a very fundamental and of an applied nature. His most significant contributions have included numerous publications in three key areas: (1) Studies of the stability of flows of viscoelastic fluids; (2) analysis of the melt spinning process of fiber formation; (3) modeling of various polymer processing operations. However, these three general topics do not come close to summarizing the amazing scope and productivity of Denn’s research, which has also included forays into numerical computation, the foundations of rheological constitutive equations, wall slip, the rheology of liquid crystalline polymers, the problem of "change of type " in the flow of viscoelastic fluids, rupture in extensional flows and, most recently, frictional effects in dense suspensions, as well as other areas of chemical engineering (see Chakraborty et al. 1996 for a more extensive biography). He has authored two highly-regarded books in the field, Polymer Melt Processing, and Process Fluid Mechanics, and five other books on various aspects of chemical engineering.
Denn has been a Guggenheim Fellow (1971-72) and a Fulbright Lecturer (1979-80) and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He holds an honorary D.Sc. Degree from the University of Minnesota and has won numerous awards for research, education, and service, including two from the American Society for Engineering Education, three from The Society of Rheology, and five from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He served as the Editor of the AIChE Journal from 1985 to 1991 and as the Editor of the Journal of Rheology from 1995 to 2005. He has also served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics, Advances in Chemical Engineering, and Rheologica Acta. While his entire career is impressive, what is said to have ultimately swayed the Bingham Medal Committee to choose Denn as the 1986 recipient of the Bingham Medal was “the use of fundamental concepts in rheology and fluid mechanics for the understanding of practical processing behavior.” (Rheology Bulletin 1986)