University of Texas
George Butte Thurston
October 8, 1924– January 19, 2013

 

 

George Butte Thurston

 

"DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY"
"REPORT OF THE MEMORIAL RESOLUTION COMMITTEE FOR"
"GEORGE B. THURSTON"

"The special committee of the General Faculty to prepare a memorial resolution for George B. Thurston,"
"professor emeritus, mechanical engineering, has filed with the secretary of the General Faculty the following report."

"Dean P. Neikirk, Secretary"
"General Faculty and Faculty Council"


"IN MEMORIAM"
"GEORGE B. THURSTON"

"George Butte Thurston, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, passed away on January 19, 2013, at the age of eighty-eight. George was born on October 8, 1924, in Austin, where he spent much of his youth. He was fond of extended visits to his grandfather's ranch along the Pedernales River in the Texas Hill Country, where he enjoyed riding horses and watching the cowboys work at their various tasks. He could recall many colorful characters from his time on the ranch—both human and animal—as well as participating in family reunions, barbecues, and fish-fries.

Upon graduating from high school at the age of sixteen, George entered the University of Texas at Austin to study physics. He went on to earn his PhD in 1952, specializing in analysis of the rheological properties of polymeric and biological materials. Upon graduation, he spent one year each at the University of Wyoming and the University of Arkansas as an assistant professor of physics, before moving to Oklahoma State University (OSU) as an associate professor of physics in 1954. At OSU, he was promoted to full professor in 1959.

George returned to Austin in 1968 to join the Department of Mechanical Engineering as a full professor. He was involved in both teaching and research in the Materials Science and Engineering Program and in the Biomedical Engineering Program, both of which, at that time, were emergent academic units providing educational and research opportunities for graduate students. George continued in this position at UT Austin for the next thirty-one years until his retirement in 1999.

His groundbreaking research on the rheological properties of polymeric and biological fluids, particularly blood, brought him worldwide acclaim. He was a pioneer in discovering, measuring, and describing the viscoelastic properties of many different biological materials, including blood and synovial fluid. As he was a pioneer in his field, there was no existing experimental apparatus for performing his rheological measurements. Therefore, George designed and built many unique items of apparatus that were used by himself and his students in his laboratory. Although George was a world leader in his field of research and he always mentored a team of graduate students, unlike many advanced academics, he maintained a very hands-on profile in his laboratory. George was as likely to be found working in his lab as in his faculty office, and he always took great pleasure in being able to explain the governing principles foundational to whatever experiment he was "conducting."

The rheological discoveries made by George led to a high level of respect within the international biorheology community, particularly since they were related directly to the understanding, diagnosing, and treating of various human diseases. In some respects, he was better known at major research universities and medical schools in Europe than among his engineering colleagues at UT Austin. He had a self-effacing personality and was disinclined to blow his own horn. His practice was to allow his science to speak on his behalf. Thus, since biomedical engineering was only a developing field of study at UT Austin during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the impact and significance of his research was under-appreciated by many of his local faculty colleagues.

Among George’s most significant recognitions was an Alexander Von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award to join the world-leading biorheology laboratory at the Helmholtz-Institut at the RWTH Aachen, Germany, in 1975. He was frequently invited to present honorific lectures at European universities, and he was fluent in both French and German. Throughout his career, he traveled extensively in Europe, researching and lecturing at various universities in France, Sweden, and Germany, and he felt a deep personal connection to Switzerland and the Rhineland, places not only rich in history but with connections to his own ancestral roots.

George authored many landmark publications in the field of rheology, particularly dealing with viscoelastic phenomena, with over a hundred journal papers, which were consistently of high quality and meticulously written. He was elected a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and of the American Physical Society in addition to the Humboldt Award he had received. He worked as a consultant for numerous government agencies and private companies, and he remained very active in consulting long after his retirement from the University of Texas at Austin, using a laboratory he had set up in his home.

Professor George Thurston was a highly innovative researcher in the field of biorheology whose work was known and appreciated around the world. He contributed to establishing biomedical engineering as a discipline at UT Austin and to building the reputation of the University for research excellence in this field.

This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Kenneth R. Diller (chair), David L. Bourell, and John R. Howell.


IN MEMORIAM

George Butte Thurston (1924–2013)

George Thurston passed peacefully away at his home in Westlake Hills on January 19, 2013, at the age of 88. Ever thoughtful of others, Thurston was a dedicated family man and a committed mentor to his many students. He is survived by his sister, a son, daughter, grandson and great granddaughter, and his devoted wife of the past ten years.

Dr. George Thurston was a Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Rheology Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin from 1968 to 1998. He was awarded the Professor Emeritus title in 1998. Dr. Thurston holds a PhD in physics (UT 1952) and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (1963) and the Acoustical Society of America (1966). In 1975, he won the Alexander Von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award in recognition of his outstanding research in rheology.

As a visiting professor at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (Institute of Technology of North Rhine-Westphalia) in Aachen, Germany, he conducted research on the rheology of blood and synovial fluids. After this, at the Université Louis Pasteur/Institut Charles Sadron in Strasbourg, France, he conducted research on flow birefringence of macromolecules, which is the decomposition of a ray of light (and other electromagnetic radiation) into two rays when it passes through certain types of material.

His work on biological fluids, flow through porous media (enhanced oil recovery), electro-rheological fluids and polymers has been published widely in the scholarly literature, and it is this experience with a broad range of materials and rheological problems that gave birth to two of the most sophisticated rheological instruments on the market today. Dr. Thurston founded Vilastic Scientific, Inc. and served as its president. Vilastic instruments are being used in the market to measure the flow properties of various things, from inks, orange juice and shampoo to colloids and polymer gels.


George and Carol Thurston History

George Butte Thurston (baby photo at right) was born on October 8, 1924, to Rudolph D. (5/3/1895–1983) and Olivia Lester (1895–1958) Thurston in Austin, Texas. His father was a lawyer, born in New York to Swiss immigrants. His mother was born in Texas, as was George and his older sister, Edith. George grew up in the Hyde Park area of Austin on Avenue H. Following her divorce from Rudolph, George’s mother married Milton E. Nelson, manager of a goat ranch. Olivia later married a Joshua Alexander Sport (1892–1979), a minister. She died May 2, 2000, and is buried in the Holland Cemetery in Burnet, Texas.

In 1940, George graduated from Dime Box High School or San Jacinto High School in Houston, Texas, at the age of sixteen. He then entered the University of Texas at Austin to study physics. There is a bit of unidentified time in this history. He should have graduated with a BS from UT around 1944, however his master's thesis entitled, Stabilization of a 10,000 Oersted Magnetic Field of an Electromagnet was completed in 1948, four years after the 1944 graduation. Darrell S. Hughes was likely his supervisor. George’s PhD was supervised by Darrell S. Hughes and was completed in 1952. It was entitled, Periodic Fluid Flow Through Circular Tubes.

It is around this time, maybe 1949, that George married Carol Albertine McWharter. She was born September 18, 1927, to Cecil E. and Vera B. Volz (1895–1986) McWharter in Chicago, IL. He and Carol had two children, John and Mary. Carol earned a master's degree in 1975 with a thesis entitled, Media Attention and Audience Knowledge About Two International News Issues. Carol's PhD dissertation, received in 1979, was entitled, Dimensions of the Social Responsibility Theory of the Press in the Netherlands and the United States. Carol Thurston taught journalism, and served as a political speechwriter. As a journalist, she has traveled widely from France, Germany, and the Netherlands to Morocco, writing about science as well as political issues. She wrote a book, The Romance Revolution, a scholarly study of the romance novels. This was an early look at the emerging role of women and attracted a large audience across the country. Among her fictional books were The Eye of the Horus and Flair. Carol also was a painter.

Upon graduation, George spent one year each at the University of Wyoming and the University of Arkansas as an assistant professor of physics, before moving to Oklahoma State University (OSU) as an associate professor of physics in 1954. At OSU, he was promoted to full professor in 1959.

George returned to Austin in 1968 to join the Department of Mechanical Engineering as a full professor. He was involved in both teaching and research in the Materials Science and Engineering Program and in the Biomedical Engineering Program, both of which, at that time, were emergent academic units providing educational and research opportunities for graduate students. George continued in this position at UT Austin for the next thirty-one years until his retirement in 1999.

George was not only a scientist but had an interest in the arts. He produced some recognized sculpture pieces. In !969, the Texas Fine Arts Association announce their 58th Annual Spring Jury Exhibition prize winners. George's sculpture, Kinetic Refrlection was among the winners.

 

 

 



George returned to Austin in 1968 to join the Department of Mechanical Engineering as a full professor. He was involved in both teaching and research in the Materials Science and Engineering Program and in the Biomedical Engineering Program, both of which, at that time, were emergent academic units providing educational and research opportunities for graduate students. George continued in this position at UT Austin for the next thirty-one years until his retirement in 1999.

Carol died July 7, 2001

 

 

History Wikipedia
In early theoretical work, blood was treated as a non-Newtonian viscous fluid. Initial studies had evaluated blood during steady flow and later, using oscillating flow.[1] Professor George B. Thurston, of the University of Texas, first presented the idea of blood being viscoelastic in 1972. The previous studies that looked at blood in steady flow showed negligible elastic properties because the elastic regime is stored in the blood during flow initiation and so its presence is hidden when a flow reaches steady state. The early studies used the properties found in steady flow to derive properties for unsteady flow situations.[2][3] Advancements in medical procedures and devices required a better understanding of the mechanical properties of blood.

 

George married Dorothy M. Woodruff on July 18, 2003, in Travis County, Texas.


 

GEORGE BUTTE THURSTON
October 8, 1924–January 19, 2013

George Thurston passed peacefully away at his home in Westlake Hills on January 19th at the age of 88. Born in Austin, he spent much of his childhood here and in Houston, as well as extended periods on his grandfather's ranch along the Perdenales River in the Texas Hill Country, where he enjoyed riding horses and watching the cowboys work at their various tasks. He fondly recalled many colorful characters from his childhood—both human and animal-- as well as family reunions, barbecues and fish-frys from his time on the ranch.

Upon graduating from high school at age 16, he entered the University of Texas at Austin, went on to attain his PhD in Physics, and ultimately became a Professor of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering, fields that he taught here until his retirement in 1999. His groundbreaking work on biological fluids, particularly blood, brought worldwide acclaim, and he received the Alexander Von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award in recognition of his outstanding research. Throughout his career he traveled extensively in Europe, researching and lecturing at various universities in France, Sweden and Germany, and he felt a deep personal connection to Switzerland and the Rhineland, places not only rich in history but with connections to his own ancestral roots.

Ever thoughtful of others, George was a dedicated family man and a committed mentor to his many students. He loved nothing more than a good joke, a good story, and good times with friends over a good bottle of wine.

He is survived by his sister, a son, daughter, grandson and great granddaughter, and his devoted wife of the past ten years.

A memorial gathering in his honor is scheduled for Saturday, February 23rd at 1 p.m. at the Weed-Corley-Fish Event Center on 411 RR620 South in Lakeway (512)263-1511.


 

WAVE PROPAGATION IN VISCOELASTIC MEDIA.
George B. Thurston, OKLAHOMA STATE UNIV STILLWATER RESEARCH FOUNDATION.

Defense Technical Information Center, 1968 - 7 pages

Studies have been made of wave propagation in both viscoelastic solids and viscoelastic liquids. Both theoretical and experimental wirk have been carried out and goals have been concerned with macroscopic wave propagation phenomena as well as interpretation of these phenomena on a microscopic basis. It has been sought to evaluate acoustic properties of materials from the viewpoint of viscoelasticity and to explore experiments for determining these properties as well as to evaluate the theoretical utility of such information. Wave propagation across interfaces, through layers, and transmission through plates have been considered. Work has been done on the propagation of flexural waves in metal plates and plastic plates. Shear wave propagation in viscoelastic liquids has been studied by utilizing optical birefringence associated with this propagation. Shear wave velocity and attenuation have been determined and reflected and interference effects studied. The influence of suspended macromolecules and solid particles on viscoelasticity and birefringence of liquids has been determined and has been related to shear wave propagation effects both in theory and in measurements. Polymer additives which are important in drag reduction (Toms effect) have been studied by shear wave techniques. (Author).

 

George Butte Thurston Photo Album

George, Edith and mother, Olivia Lester Thurston

George, Mary, Carol, John Thurston, and their pet, Brownie, 1968

George Thurston, 1926.

George Thurston and sister, Edith, 1926

George Thurston, Littlefield Fountain, UT, ca. 1931, Note Old Main Building in background.
Olivia and George Thurston, ca. 1931

Rudolph, George and Edith Thurston

George and Carol Thurston

George and Mary Thurston

George and Carol McWharter Thurston,
Carol and George Thurston
George Thurston and George Massingill
George Thurston and Bill Robertson, Barton Springs, Austin, TX

George Thurston and Bill Robertson, Physics Building, U. of Texas, Austin, TX, 1950

Herb Martin and George Thurston, University of Texas, Austin, TX, 1950s

Bill Robertson, unknown, Lee Stewart, Carol and George Thurston, Maybe camping in Mexico 1950s

Carol and George Thurston, George and Billie Massingill, Austin, TX, 1950s

Unknown. Carol and George Thurston, Austin, TX, 1950s

Bert Lindsay, George Massingill and George Thurston, Austin, TX, 1950

George Massingill and GeorgeThurston

Unknown

G Thurston and Brownie 1975 Westlake

George Thurston, 1980

George Thurston

George Thurston High School Grad

George Thurston home office, 1985

George Thurston receiving the Alexander Von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award , 1975
George Thurston Humboldt Award, Germany
George Thurston Student Lab, Michigan, 1950s
George Thurston, master's or PhD graduation
George Thurston Office, Physics Department, 1985
George Thurston, portrait, age 55

George Thurston, Strasbourg, 1964

George Thurston, Strasbourg Apartment, 1964
George Thurston, Sweden, 1970
George Thurston, Xmas 1947 with Muggins
Nancy Henderson and George Thurston, UT 1990
John Schrag

George and Carol Thurston

Carol and George Thurston, 1947.

George and Carol Thurston

George Thurston Drawing

George Thurston at his desk

Carol Thurston

George and Carol Thurston, Illinois

George's mom, Olivia, sitting, and her sister, Lattie Lester (1898–).
University of Oklahoma Physics Faculty and Majors, 1961
Oklahoma State University, Physics Majors and Staff, 1968
Oklahoma State University Physics Faculty and Majors, 1960
Oklahoma State University, Physics Faculty and Majors, 1960
George Thurston, 1950, PhD candidate, UT

George and Carol Thurston, Illinois

George and Carol Thurston, first house, 1950

George and Carol Thurston, Honeymoon Big Bend

George Thurston, PhD Ceremony

George and Carol Thurston, Illinois

UT Physics Unknown 1950s

Rudolph D. Thurston, George Thurston's father.

RD Thurston with lawyers
Carol Thurston, Bob Mallory, Billie Massingill, George Shaffer Massingill (1922–2013), Lois Holt Mallory
Uknown UT Building ?
George Thurston and George Massingill, Austin, TX, 1950s
George Thurston and George Massingill, Austin, TX, 1950s
Carol and George Thurston, Austin, TX, 1950s

George Thurston, Austin, TX, 1950s

George Thurston, Entrance to UT physics building.

George and Carol Thurston and George Massingale and Unknown
Bert Lindsay
William Woodrow "Bill" Robertson
George Thurston and Bill Robertson, Barton Springs, Austin, TX
Unknown and Bill Robertson
George Thurston, On Campus article about his blood viscosity discover.

George Thurston, The Alcalde article by Carol Thurston, featuring George Thurston, 1974

George Thurston, The Alcalde article about his blood viscosity discover, 1974.
Article about Carol's book The Romance Revolution.

Grandpa George Price Lester. Texas Ranch, First Car 1918. George was married to Mary Holland Lester.

 

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