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2009 Zenith Medal for Service: Dick Ambrose

Richard J. “Dick” Ambrose was selected as the recipient of the College’s 2009 Zenith Medal for Service. Established in 2005, this award recognizes alumni or friends of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences for distinguished contributions or advocacy that significantly advance our ability to make powerful impacts on science, the economy, the environment and the quality of human life.

A staunch advocate for PAMS, for NC State, and for education in general for more than three decades, Ambrose was raised in the small town of Girard, Ohio, just outside of Youngstown. He pursued both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in his home state, earning his BS in chemistry from Bowling Green State University in 1964 and his PhD in polymer science from the University of Akron in 1968.

After college, Ambrose went to work for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, where, over the next decade, he would rise from research scientist to senior research scientist to group leader in the exploratory polymerization program.

In 1979, he left Firestone for Lord Corporation, a worldwide leader in adhesives and coatings, vibration and motion control, and magnetically responsive technologies. Ambrose spent the next 28 years at Lord, retiring in 2007 as the company’s vice president of research and technology ? and with 21 patents in various areas of polymer science and processing.

Ambrose’s relationship with NC State began in the mid 1980s, shortly after Lord moved its headquarters from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Cary. He served as an adjunct faculty member in the College of Textiles from 1986 to 1995, and he served on the PAMS Foundation Board of Directors from 1989 to 2000.

“While his service in these ‘official’ roles has been invaluable, it doesn’t begin to tell the entire story of his impact on PAMS and NC State,” said PAMS Dean Dan Solomon. “Dick’s belief in the mutual benefits of industrial support of higher education has led to longstanding relationships with Lord Corporation across our college and throughout the university.”

Perhaps the most notable of these relationships is the partnership between Lord and the Center for Research in Scientific Computation (CRSC) in the Department of Mathematics. From its initial partnership with Lord Corporation, CRSC’s Industrial Applied Mathematics Program ? under the direction of Professor Tom Banks – has grown to include some 20 corporate and governmental partners, generates $2-3 million in external funding each year and has trained dozens of students to successfully communicate across disciplines and bridge the gap between academics and industry.

Over the years, Ambrose has leveraged Lord Corporation resources and provided his own personal support for PAMS and NC State. He made possible the Lord Corporation/CRSC Graduate Fellowship Program in mathematics and the Lord Corporation Distinguished Professorship in chemistry, and he established the Marsha Ambrose Endowment for The Science House in honor of his wife.