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Adjunct professor provides many years of service to university

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 21 Issue 13 - November 19, 1998

Twenty years ago, Allan Shultz, a scientist with General Electric Corporate R&D, was a member of an external committee that reviewed Virginia Tech's need for a new chemistry building. Now he has an office in the old building, Davidson Hall. As an adjunct faculty member in chemistry, Shultz is a partner in a faculty-student group developing improved dental materials.
Shultz's association with the university began almost 30 years ago when chemistry professor Tom Ward invited him to give a lecture in 1969. The association continued as Shultz attended every Polymer Materials and Interface Laboratory (PMIL) review since its inception in 1978 and annually interviewed Ph.D. candidates for employment at GE.
"Dr. Shultz was a graduate student with the most famous man to ever work in polymer science--Nobel winner P.J. Flory, who was Allan's thesis advisor at Cornell," Ward said. Following completion of his doctoral studies at Cornell and two years as a research associate with W.H. Stockmayer at MIT, Shultz joined the polymer section of the 3M Central Research Laboratory in 1954. In the subsequent nine years at 3M and 28 years at GE Corporate R&D, Shultz engaged in basic and applied research of polymers. He published extensively and presented invited lectures at many universities and institutes. He has participated as a member of the American Chemical Society, Sigma Xi, AAAS, and the New York Academy of Sciences, chaired several symposia including a Gordon Research Conference on Thermosets, and received the GE Plastics Business Division Heritage of Excellence Award.
"When Dr. Shultz got ready to retire and told me he wanted to remain active, of course I offered him a desk in my lab," Ward said.
Shultz, now 72, says his annual appointments since 1991, as an adjunct professor in chemistry, have been "a very satisfying arrangement. I can continue my research and professional associations, and I am pleased to be working with students." The feeling is apparently mutual. It's not unusual to see a student, with paper in hand, stop Shultz in the hall to ask him questions.
"He's an enormously valuable asset to students--to all types of students, not just mine," said Ward. "He knows people and where to find resources. He is very knowledgeable and willing to spend large amounts of time with students, and with faculty members, for that matter, on projects and ideas. He attends seminars and asks penetrating questions."
Shultz now occupies an office on the top floor of Davidson, the old chemistry building, and a desk in the physical chemistry laboratory of Hahn Hall, the new chemistry building. As a pro-bono adjunct professor in chemistry, he serves on the thesis committees of 15 Ph.D. candidates and participates in the student research group meetings of four other chemistry professors. He engages in collaborative research with faculty members, post-doctoral research associates, and other scientists, and also coordinates the PMIL seminar series.
At the November 22-25 Biennial Polymer Symposium (ACS) in Williamsburg, Shultz will present a poster on "PhotoDSC Polymerization of New Dimethacrylate Monomers," based on Nazan Gunduz's master's thesis research on improved dental materials. It is an illustration both of Shultz's work with students and of his research contributions.
GE scientists J.E. Moore, S.H. Schroeter, and Shultz first introduced the PhotoDSC technique (a combination of light activation and differential scanning calorimetry) in 1975 to study multi-functional acrylate and methacrylate photopolymerizations. Such polymerizations use light as an activator to turn a liquid coating into a plastic to create insulating layers in electronic components, protective coatings on metal cans, or to pattern conductive layers in semi-conductor chips and make compact disk masters.
The PhotoDSC technique has been employed not only in the research and development of polymeric coatings, adhesives, electronic device materials, and optical lenses, but also in dental applications. The Virginia Tech researchers are developing better dental materials, which they will showcase in Williamsburg.
The Virginia Tech research group includes post-doctoral fellows M. Sankarapandian and H.K. Shobha--who are husband and wife, Gunduz, Shultz, and James McGrath, director of the NSF Science and Technology Center for High Performance Polymeric Adhesives and Composites. The work is supported by the NSF Center and the chemistry department.
Gunduz's master's thesis was submitted by the Virginia Tech Graduate School for the Council of Southern Graduate Schools 1999 Master's Thesis Award.