Drink a glass of water, and you imbibe the most common Newtonian fluid on Earth. Experiment with a non-Newtonian Boger fluid — named for David Boger ’61 — and you are dipping into the stuff of the quantum universe. Non-Newtonian fluids have gained their unique place by exhibiting behavior contrary to the laws Newton established. A pioneer in rheology — the study of deformation and the flow of matter — Boger focuses on liquid matter and soft solids. The nature of rheological materials is unique; for example, when they react to an application of force, they exhibit plasticized flow rather than randomized deformation.
In 1975, during an experiment, Boger mixed polymers with liquids and discovered a new type of non-Newtonian fluid. Unlike others that were equally elastic, his new fluids maintained a constant viscosity, a quality that would prove revolutionary for many industries; these fluids now bear his name.
Born in Kutztown, Pa., Boger began his monumental travels at Bucknell, where he was greatly influenced by Professor of Chemical Engineering Bob Slonaker M’52. He then earned master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois. Then, Boger says, he decided to take a position in Australia.
Boger has lived and worked in the southern hemisphere all of his professional life, having held numerous visiting positions, as well as full time appointments at Monash University and the University of Melbourne, where he was a laureate professor. He has received abundant awards for his work, including the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in Australia. In 2007, he was elected to the prestigious Royal Society, which is celebrating its 350th anniversary this year. Says Boger, “It is a great honor to join the likes of Newton and Einstein in the Royal Society.”
Boger owns a 300-acre beef farm in Gippsland, Australia, and is an avid freshwater and saltwater fly fisherman. He and his wife, Reba, spend three months each year in Florida and nine months in Australia. Actively participating in building a sustainable ecological future through preserving the environment, Boger adds, “My work on non-Newtonian fluids has had a huge effect on reducing the impact of mining.” — Maria Jacketti
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