Professor Frederick F. Lange, a distinguished UCSB faculty member and notable scientist, passed away on Friday in Tuscon, Ariz., in the company of his family.
Lange began working for the university in 1986 as a professor of both materials and chemical engineering. After being appointed the chair of the Materials Dept. in 1998 and the Alcoa chair and professor of materials in 1999, Lange led the dept. to nationally recognized success. Lange headed the department until 2005, when he ended his 24 years of service to the university. In addition to his extensive work on materials research, Lange also authored over 300 journal articles and held 32 patents to his name.
Today, Lange is remembered by his colleagues as a renowned scientist and contributor to the university. Galen Stucky, professor of chemistry & biochemistry and materials, said Lange had an inspirational love for his field of practice.
“He was a leader,” Stucky said. “He did a tremendous amount of work and had a huge impact on the growth of the materials research effort on the campus, to the point that our materials effort here is ranked among the best in the world right now. I learned a great deal from him; he was both a colleague and a mentor.”
In addition to his work at UCSB, Lange held a number of academic positions worldwide, including visiting professor at the National University of Singapore and jubilee professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. In the field of materials research, he was an Institute for Science Information Highly Cited Researcher, an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and Distinguished Life Member of the American Ceramic Society, considered the highest honor the society can bestow.
Much of his research focused on the processing of ceramic microstructures, which produce higher crack growth resistance, as well as colloidal power processing methods, which minimize flaw populations in ceramics.
Peter Wray, communications director for the American Ceramic Society, said Lange will be remembered for his vast accomplishments in the field of materials and his insightful skill as a researcher.
“There’s a whole art to trying to make these complex materials: how to not only understand what’s going on, but also how to control it,” Wray said. “Professor Lange was very much involved in trying to push forward on how we understand making these materials. It’s an esoteric and very important area that he worked in, and he was really brilliant in looking at possibilities of how to get around problems … he won virtually every major award in our society.”
In addition to his dedication to research, Lange is remembered for his fervent commitment to his students. Chad Landis, associate professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin, studied under Lange as a graduate student at UCSB in 1998.
“He was very intuitive, very enthusiastic about the material, very bright. It just makes me sad to know that he passed on; it’s just too short a time,” Landis said. “I just think he was a great teacher, and it was great to be a grad student with him around. He was very supportive of all his students and had a love for science that was contagious to all of his students.”
Lange’s family has asked that donations be sent to the Dept. of Materials at UCSB in lieu of flowers. The campus flag was lowered to half-staff last Friday in his honor.