Robert Simha

Robert Simha

Case Western Reserve University

August 4, 1912 – June 5, 2008

Polymer Physicist
Awarded Bingham Medal 1973

Dr. Robert Simha was born on August 4, 1912 in Vienna, Austria. He started his studies at the Polytechnic School but switched to the University of Vienna where he received his PhD in theoretical physics in 1935. After graduation in 1938, Simha received a postdoc position at Columbia University where he remained until 1942. From 1942-1945, he was on the faculty at Howard University where he studied the kinetics and statics of copolymerization chain reactions. After leaving Howard University, Simha worked for six years at the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) as a consultant and coordinator of polymer research from 1945-1951. He then moved to New York University where he was on faculty from 1951-1958 and then again to the University of Southern California where he was a professor from 1958-1968. Simha’s last move occurred when he took the position on faculty at Case Western Reserve University where he stayed until his death in 2008.

For his PhD thesis, Simha chose his topic to be colloid hydrodynamics in part because of his interactions with Eugene Guth. Simha worked alongside Elliot Montroll on kinetic theory of chain degradation and together with Leo Wall developed a theory of depolymerization which was then confirmed through experiments by Samuel Madorksy. Simha’s research was focused in the areas of hydrodynamics of colloidal solutions, physical and thermodynamic properties of macromolecules systems, and kinetics and statics of polymers and biological macromolecules.


Jamieson, Alex. Robert Simha on his 80th Birthday. Macromolecules 1992, 25(16), 4049-4050. Go to link.

Otterness, I.; Jamieson, A.M.; Cole, K.C.; Utracki, L.A. In Memory of Prof. Robert Simha (1912–2008). Polymer Engineering and Science 2009. Go to link (accessed July 16, 2018).

Jamieson, Alexander M.; Otterness, Ivan; Utracki, Leszek A. Robert Simha. Physics Today 2008, 61(12), 69. Go to link.

Rheology Bulletin Sep 1973, 42(2). Also, Box 6, Folder 17. Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740.

Photo Credit

Simha Robert A1, AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives.