Robert C. Armstrong

Robert C. Armstrong

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chemical Engineer
Awarded Bingham Medal 2006
Fellow, Elected 2015

Robert (Bob) C. Armstrong received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1970 and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison less than three years later. His doctoral research at Wisconsin with Professor Bob Bird focused on the statistical mechanics of micromechanical models for dilute polymer solutions. Armstrong joined the MIT faculty in 1973, served as head of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1996 to 2007, and later became the Director of the MIT Energy Initiative. He was a member of MIT’s Future of Natural Gas and Future of Solar Energy study groups and co-chairs the Future of Storage study. He has served as Chair of the Executive Committee of the Council for Chemical Research and joined the Board of Directors at Xyleco, Inc. in 2016.

His research interests include the development of constitutive theories for microstructured liquids, experimental measurements in rheology, the fluid mechanics of purely elastic flow instabilities, and computation of complex flows. All rheologists are familiar with the two-volume text Dynamics of Polymeric Liquids, authored by Bird (1974 Bingham Medalist), Armstrong, Ole Hassager (2020 Bingham Medalist) and, for volume 2, Chuck Curtiss (1987 Bingham Medalist). More recently, Armstrong worked with George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State, to co-edit Game Changers: Energy on the Move. As a mentor, Armstrong's record is particularly noteworthy. His enthusiasm for research and academics has inspired a significant second generation of academic scholars at numerous universities, including faculty at such top schools such as U.C. Berkeley (Muller), MIT (McKinley), Delaware (Beris and Shine), Columbia (Shapley), North Carolina State (Khan) and Universidad Nacional del Sur, Argentina (Quinzani). With long-time collaborator Robert A. (Bob) Brown, Armstrong influenced a generation of chemical engineers across the continent.

Armstrong was president of The Society of. Rheology from 1994 to 95 and served on the Executive Committee from 1992 to 1997. In his time as President of the SOR, Armstrong was responsible for two very important transitions. The first was a turnover in the position of Editor of the Journal of Rheology. Armstrong's editorial selection process resulted in the highly successful 10-year tenure of Morton Denn as JOR editor from 1995 to 2005. The process devised by Armstrong was followed once again in 2005 when Denn stepped down and John Brady was nominated to replace him. A second important contribution as president was Armstrong’s initiative to create The Society’s website (, and the appointment of webmaster Albert Co. As far back as 1995 Armstrong foresaw the importance of a web presence for The Society, and he wrote a message in the January 1995 issue of the Rheology Bulletin in which he asked for volunteers to build a Society. Armstrong has received a wide variety of awards throughout his academic career including the 2006 Bingham Medal, MIT ChemE Outstanding Faculty Award (1975), AIChE Professional Progress Award (1992), the University of Wisconsin Distinguished Service Citation (2001), and the AIChE Warren K. Lewis Award (2006). He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2008.

Note: This biography is an adaptation of the 2006 Bingham Medal biography on The Society of Rheology website.