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Rubinstein Named 2018 Bingham Medalist of the Society of Rheology

Michael Rubinstein recognized for advancing fundamental understanding of complex fluid flows

Michael Rubinstein, a professor in Duke University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) with joint appointments in Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry and Physics, was named the 2018 Bingham Medalist of the Society of Rheology.

The award recognizes Rubinstein’s contributions to the theory of rheology of complex fluids and polymers and his intellectual leadership in both industry and academia that has helped bridge the practical, engineering science of rheology with molecular physics.

Rheology involves the study of the flow of complex fluids. Over the last 50 years the field has transformed from an applied branch of engineering focused on optimizing materials processing to a fundamental molecular science that allows researchers to design molecular components for complex solids and liquids with the desired elasticity and viscosity at particular deformation rates. Through his work in the field, Rubinstein has been able to develop molecular models of diseases like thromboembolism and explain why the buildup of mucus by cystic fibrosis isn’t cleared from the lungs, allowing researchers and clinicians to design better treatments for these ailments.

Internationally recognized as an expert in polymer theory and computer simulations, Rubinstein joined Duke in 2018. He is currently building a Soft Matter Center that will bring together soft matter researchers across the Pratt School of Engineering, the Duke University School of Medicine and the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences to contribute to this growing field.

“I am humbled, honored and very happy that my work in the field of rheology is recognized by my peers. Rheology is a central part of soft matter, which over the last decade has rapidly transformed into a new field of science that connects fundamental molecular understanding of complex phenomena to direct applications in industrial engineering and medicine,” Rubinstein said. “I plan to work with researchers at Duke working in this exciting new area to form a Soft Matter Center that I hope will become the headquarters of new national and international soft matter societies.”

The Bingham Medal will be presented at the 90th Society of Rheology Annual Meeting, held October 14-18 in Houston, Texas, which will feature a plenary lecture by Rubinstein.