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Les Sperling 1933-2016

Leslie (Les) H. Sperling, emeritus professor of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering, has died. He was 83.

Sperling received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Florida in 1954, a M.S. in chemistry from Duke University in 1957, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Duke University in 1959. He joined Lehigh in June 1967 and retired in 2002.

Throughout his career at Lehigh, he remained an active researcher, guiding 55 graduate students, post-docs and visiting scientists, resulting in 271 publications and 15 books. He also served as co-Chair of the Education Committee for the Center for Polymer Science and Engineering (CPSE).

Among his many achievements, Sperling received the Distinguished Service Award from the Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering (PMSE) Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2012. At ACS, Sperling served on the POLY/PMSE Polymer Education Committee, the ACS Nomenclature Committee and was a PMSE Member at Large. Sperling was selected as a PMSE Fellow in 2002 and as an ACS Fellow in 2010.

Sperling’s expertise involved polymer blends and he was best known for his work on interpenetrating polymer networks (IPNs). He was referred to around the world as the “IPN man” — a moniker embodied on the license plate of his car.

Sperling was an inventor with 7 U.S. Patents.

He was also a Fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) and was very active in the Lehigh Valley Section of SPE as the Education Chair. He was involved in local science fairs and was in charge of local SPE scholarships.

In retirement, Sperling became a member of the American Wine Society Educational Foundation and was Vice President of Scholarships. He grew his own grapes and made his own award-winning wines. In recognition of his many years of service, the American Wine Society bestowed upon him the 2014 Outstanding Member Award.

lsperling-awsLes receives the American Wine Society 2014 Outstanding Member Award.

Sperling authored two books on wines: Fruit Wine: A Home Winemaker’s Guide to Making Wine from Fruits in 1993, and The Adventurous Home Winemaker in 2008. He would frequently bring several bottles of his wine to social events.

Les Sperling will be deeply missed by his colleagues, students, friends, and the department.

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