Chris W. Macosko

Chris W. Macosko

University of Minnesota

1944 – Present

Chemical Engineer
Awarded Bingham Medal 2004
Fellow, Elected 2015

Chris Macosko was born in Connecticut in 1944. His family moved to Berea (Ohio), just outside Cleveland, when he was three years old. At Berea High School he excelled in academics, but his fondest memories are from running, as both captain of the cross-country team and a member of the outdoor four-by-one mile relay team that set a school record. Perhaps anticipating a tenacity that would serve the rheology community later in his career, Macosko once completed, and won, a cross-country event with a broken leg! Macosko spent part of 1962 as an exchange student in West Berlin, experiencing a unique glimpse of world affairs at a critical juncture in the twentieth century. Along with more running and a full slate of classes, Chris found time to write for “Steel Magazine”. His resulting interviews with scientists and engineers around Cleveland and Pittsburgh in the mid-1960's planted the seeds for an impending career in softer materials.

After graduating with a chemical engineering degree from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1966, Chris attended Imperial College in London, and completed a master's degree under the supervision of Ken Weale. His project, high pressure polymerization kinetics, provided his initial exposure to polymer science and engineering. Upon returning to the U.S., Chris married Kathleen and entered the graduate program at Princeton University in the fall of 1967. While working under the tutelage of Bryce Maxwell, Macosko and fellow graduate student Joe Starita conceived the ideas that culminated in the development of a new, less compliant rheometer. The subsequent evolution of the Rheometrics Company (now part of TA Instruments) in the early 1970's represents a pivotal development in the field of rheometry. Chris graduated with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1970.

Pushed by mentor Leon Lapidus at Princeton, and pulled by Skip Scriven, Macosko accepted a faculty position at the University of Minnesota, where Neal Amundson was expanding the chemical engineering program to include materials science and engineering. This expansion paid sizable dividends, and Chris spearheaded an interdisciplinary polymer program that drew Matt Tirrell (1977), Tim Lodge (1982), Frank S. Bates (1989), Dave Morse (1997), Mahesh Mahanthapa (2014), Xiang Cheng (2013), Chris Ellison (2016) and Michelle Calabrese (2019) to the department, while also embracing chemistry faculty Stephen Prager, Wilmer Miller, Marc Hillmyer (1997) and Theresa Reineke (2011).

Since joining the University of Minnesota, Macosko has distinguished himself as a terrific teacher and a leading scholar in the field of polymer science and engineering. His work addresses complex problems that couple reaction kinetics and the development of molecular architecture to flow. Throughout his career, rheology has played a central role: examples include the characterization of network formation during gelation, elasticity of foams, interfacial area generation in reactive blends, the processing of thin multi-layer films and the viscoelastic character of nanocomposites.

Macosko is a fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers (1997), a member of the National Academy of Engineering (2001), and a fellow of the American Physical Society (2008). He has worked nationally as the Turner Alfrey Visiting Professor at the Michigan Macromolecular Institute (1995), through the Science and Religion Course Program Grant from the John Templeton Foundation (2000), and internationally in Germany at BASF with Martin Laun (1990), through a US-Japan Fellowship at Tokyo Institute of Technology (1992) and with the Lady Davis Fellowship at the Technion in Israel (2008). Among other honors, he received the 1988 Charles M.A. Stine Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineering, the 1999 Society of Plastics Engineers International Award, the 2006 Banbury Award from the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society, the 2008 Society of Polymer Science Japan (SPSJ) International Award, and the Amundson Lectures at the Universidad de Guadalajara (2019). Additionally, papers he coauthored were awarded the Journal of Rheology Publication Award in both 2004 and 2007, and he was inducted into the Berea High School Hall of Fame in April 2004.


“Macosko, Christopher Ward.” American Men and Women of Science, 27th ed.; Gale: Farmington Hills, MI, 2010; Vol. 5.

Chris Macosko. Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, University of Minnesota (accessed Jul 31, 2019).

The Road To Scientific Success: Inspiring Life Stories Of Prominent Researchers (Volume 2). Deborah D L Chung (Editor). World Scientific Pub. 2014, p 133-154. ISBN-13: 978-9814541916.

Note: This biography is an adaptation of the following article previously published by The Society of Rheology.

Chris Macosko Named 2004 Bingham Medalist. Rheology Bulletin 2004, 73(2).