Amundson made major contributions in research, education, and academic and professional leadership. He authored more than 200 articles in journals and five books. This research led to many advances in the design and operation of chemical processes. He guided the research of nearly 70 Ph.D. students. He was a most influential mentor, and many of his students achieved prominent positions in universities and industry, such as department chairs, deans, chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, and members of the National Academies. He served as the U.S. editor of the journal Chemical Engineering Science during 1957–1972 and led its establishment as the foremost journal of the profession then. He also served as editor of the Prentice-Hall International Series in the Physical and Chemical Engineering Sciences, from its inception in 1961 until the year 2000.
Amundson had a major impact on changing the techniques and methodology used to tackle chemical engineering problems. His professional leadership roles included chairing the National Research Council committee that prepared the report titled Frontiers in Chemical Engineering: Research Needs and Opportunities (1988), which charted new directions and expansions for the profession, such as materials science and bioengineering. Amundson was also a most successful academic leader. He was appointed head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota in 1949, at the relatively young age of 33, and remained in that position for the next 25 years, until 1974. With his own brilliant research and the hiring of outstanding faculty members, he transformed the department from relative obscurity to the top-ranked program in the country. He had the vision to foresee that infusion of talent from other disciplines can enrich education and research in chemical engineering. Thus, among his early faculty hires were individuals with a background in microbiology, mathematics, and chemistry, who themselves made enormous contributions to the field. Thus, Amundson was the earliest proponent of interdisciplinary research, so common in universities today. The magnitude of his contributions was recognized by the University of Minnesota