William Ducker, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been named the Robert E. Hord Jr. Professor in Chemical Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The Robert E. Hord Jr. Professorship in Chemical Engineering was established by a gift from the late Robert E. Hord Jr., a 1950 graduate of the College of Engineering who was an enthusiastic supporter of Virginia Tech’s chemical and mechanical engineering programs. The professorship acknowledges and rewards faculty in the Department of Chemical Engineering who have shown exceptional merit in research, teaching, and service.

A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 2008, Ducker has made a number of game-changing and high-impact contributions to the fields of colloid and surface science. In his career, he has received external funding exceeding $12 million and has published 147 peer-reviewed papers. He has advised eight master’s and 22 Ph.D. students to completion, four of whom have become university professors.

Two papers authored by Ducker and published in the premier journals Nature in 1991 and Langmuir in 1992 have been cited more than 4,000 times. Ducker creatively modified atomic force microscopy to measure forces that control the behavior of colloid suspensions.

Bob Tilton, Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering at Carnegie-Mellon University, wrote, “This development profoundly altered the field. It yielded many discoveries that tested theoretically predicted forces and revealed detailed information about the different kinds of forces that controlled a variety of colloid suspensions.”

This development enabled new and refined technologies and commercial products across a range of industries.

Hans-Jürgen Butt, director of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany, wrote, “William Ducker has carried out outstanding and lasting contributions in the fields of colloid and surface chemistry, surface forces and organization, bacterial adhesion and antimicrobial coatings, and atomic force microscopy. [He] is one of the internationally leading scientists in colloid and interface science and chemical engineering.”

Ducker received his bachelor's degree and a Ph.D. from the Australian National University.

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