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Alan N. Gent

by Susan J. Ainsworth
November 19, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 47

Alan N. Gent, 84, a polymer science pioneer and professor emeritus of polymer physics and polymer engineering at the University of Akron, died on Sept. 20.

A native of Leicester, England, Gent attended the University of London, where he earned a B.S. in 1946 in both physics and math and a Ph.D. in 1955 in science.

He served in the British Army from 1947 until 1949 before working for the British Rubber Producers’ Research Association (now the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre).

Joining the University of Akron faculty in 1961 as a professor of polymer physics, Gent served as assistant director of its Institute of Polymer Science (now the Institute of Polymer Science & Polymer Engineering) from 1963 until 1978. He then became the university’s dean of graduate studies and research.

Gent returned full-time to research and teaching, as the Harold A. Morton Professor of Polymer Physics & Polymer Engineering, from 1986 until he retired in 1994.

An internationally recognized expert, Gent made significant contributions to the understanding of the physics of adhesion and the fracture of rubber as well as crystalline and glassy polymers. He served as a consultant and scientific adviser to Goodyear Tire & Rubber from 1964 until 2002.

Gent published more than 200 papers and book chapters and edited “Engineering with Rubber.” He also shared credit for two British patents and one U.S. patent. In 1991, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He received many awards, including the Charles Goodyear Medal from the ACS Rubber Division.

Gent is survived by his wife, Ginger; former wife, Jean; sons, Martin, Michael, and Andrew; 15 grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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