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James E. McGrath - Hall of Fame Entry
  Author: Plastics Academy Staff
Added: 03/29/2004
Type: Summary
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James E. McGrath - Hall of Fame Entry


James E. McGrath




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A renowned researcher who has also been a key author and educator in the field of polymer science. He co-authored six books on block polymers and polymerization technology as well as more than 100 important technical papers.

After nearly two decades working as a research scientist developing new polymers and processing techniques, Dr. James McGrath gained a unique perspective on the educational needs of future generations of plastics professionals. He then applied this knowledge in a 20-year second career as a major author and academic leader in plastics. Over that span he has conceived and conducted innovative courses on polymer chemistry for student, government, industrial, and international audiences.

Prior to joining Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) and State Univeristy as a professor in 1975, Dr. McGrath worked for producers of plastic raw materials, including Rayonier and Goodyear, as a reserach scientist involved in polymer synthesis, characterization, and stabilization. While at Union Carbide from 1967 to 1975, his activities extended into processing technology, including the extrusion of polyethylene pipe and blow molding of polyolefins, technical service, and introduction of new products.

Currently Director of the National Science Foundation Science & Technology Center at VPI, Dr. McGrath also serves as the Ethyl Chaired Professor of Chemistry and Co-Director of the Polymeer Materials and Interface Laboratory. In addition to his duties as a professor, his contributions include:

  • Co-authorship or editing of six books on block copolymers, polymerization technology, organisiloxane copolymers, and polyamides, as well as more than 100 technical papers.
  • Development of the first experimental, nationally offered short courses in polymer chemistry: Polymer Chemistry: Principles and Practice; Polymer Synthesis: Fundamentals and Technique; and Characterization of Polymers.
  • Extra-university education courses for polymer scientists at major corporations and courses for undergraduate teachers in macro-molecular chemistry and engineering.

In 1987, Dr. McGrath received the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Plastics Research from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE).

In addition to fostering the work of graduate and post-graduate students, he has been responsible for the administration of millions of dollars worth of research grants from government and industry.

Dr. McGrath holds a B.S. from St. Bernadine of Siena College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Akron. He and his wife, Marlene, live in Blacksburg, Virginia. They have six children.

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