Professor Emeritus James Rush Brock Passes Away

Professor James Rush BrockDr. James Rush Brock, professor emeritus in chemical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, passed away peacefully at his home in Austin on Wednesday, December 7, 2011.

Brock served as a faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1960–1999 and was the Kenneth A. Kobe Professor.  His fields of interest were: aerosol physics and chemistry, environmental science, plasma physics, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, atmospheric physics, rarefied gas dynamics and nanotechnology.  From 1962-1963 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Universite Libre de Belgique, Brussels, working under Dr. Ilya Prigogine, winner of the 1977 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

“Jim was a world leader in aerosol chemistry and physics, including applications to air quality and nanoparticle synthesis,” said Dr. Roger T. Bonnecaze, department chair and the T. Brockett Hudson Professor in Chemical Engineering .  “Underneath’s Jim’s soft-spoken and modest nature was an incredibly keen intellect.  Although we only overlapped on the faculty for a short time, I greatly appreciated my conversations with him early on in my career.”

Brock was born in Mission, Texas in 1930 as the second of the three sons of Jerome Dalton Brock and Elizabeth Beeler Brock.  He obtained his B.A. and B.S. degrees from Rice University in 1952 and 1953 and his M.S. and Ph.D. from The University of Wisconsin in 1954 and 1960.  He worked as a Texas research engineer for Humble Oil & Refining Co in Houston from 1954-55.

Brock married Mary Lou Waghorn in 1964 in London, England.  They had an interesting and wonderful life together and two daughters, Ianthe and Alison.  His granddaughter Carey Beth was the light of his latter years.

He was a visiting professor at the University of Paris faculty of science in 1973 and at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1988.  In 1997 at the NATO Advanced Study Institute on Nanostructure Materials: Science & Technology in St. Petersburg, Russia, he spoke on “Nanoparticle Synthesis: A Key Process in the future of Nanotechnology” which was published in the volume recording that historic meeting.

Brock was a member of the Research Grants Advisory Committee for the evaluation of air pollution research proposals for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington in 1970. He also served as a research consultant for the US Air Force and various private companies including Radian Corporation, Southwest Research Institute, Illinois Institute of Technology and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

He was co-author with G.M. Hidy of The Dynamics of Aerocolloidal Systems, Vol. 1, and Topics in Current Aerosol Research Vol. 2, 1970; co-editor of International Reviews in Aerosol Physics and Chemistry, 1971-1973; associate editor of the Journal of Environmental Science and Health, 1978; and of the Journal of Aerosol Science, 1986-1988; member of the editorial board of the Journal of Colloid Science, 1965-66; Aerosol Science and Technology, 1984-1988; contributed more than 150 articles to refereed science and engineering journals, contributed 10 book chapters, wrote numerous reports, and held 20 patents.

He was on the Technical Advisory Committee of the Texas Air Control Board, 1980-1982; the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Army Research Development Engineering Center located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. in 1987; grantee of the National Science Foundation; member of the American Chemical Society, and the American Association for Aerosol Research; received the Sinclair Award in 1992; the Gesellschaft fur Aerosol Forschung; received the Hocutt Distinguished Centennial Engineering Research Award, 1999.  He was also a member of Tau Beta Pi, Alpha Chi Omega, Omega Chi Epsilon, Phi Lambda Upsilon and Sigma Tau.

Brock is lovingly remembered as a stalwart, generous and loving husband and father, and a modest, private man. He had a kind way with children, the family animals-especially his beloved little dog Mini.  He was a respected church member, colleague and professor; a perceptive and kind counselor and employer; a lover of the environment, wildlife, the Universe and space, classical music and history.  He was faithful to his science and to his university.  His service to his country, though hidden from the public eye, was significant.

Cherishing his memory are his brother Bill Brock, his wife Mary Lou Brock, his daughters Alison Brock, and Ianthe Brock Wooley, son-in-law John C. Wooley, granddaughter Carey Beth Wooley, and nephews and nieces.  The family deeply appreciates all who cared for him in his latter years.  They all loved him well and will cherish one another the more for having known him.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent denoting in memorium to:

Worldwatch Institute
1776 Massachusetts Avenue Nw
Washington, DC 20008
Suite 800

A private family service will be held at a later date.  Visit Dr. Brock’s obituary webpage to leave a message or share a memory.

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