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CHARLES R. WILKE

1917–2003

Elected in 1975

“For contributions to research on molecular diffusion, development of
microbiological processes, and engineering education.”

BY JOHN M. PRAUSNITZ

CHARLES (CHARLIE) R. WILKE, one of the founders of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, died on October 2, 2003. He was 86 years old.

Born in Ohio, Wilke attended the University of Dayton. To meet expenses he organized a dance band in which he played trombone. Following his B.S. degree, Charlie went to Washington State University, where he received a master’s degree working with Professor Otto Redlich, who later was a distinguished chemical thermodynamicist at Shell Development Company in Emeryville, California. Following retirement from Shell, Otto served many years as a lecturer in chemical engineering at Berkeley.

Charlie received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1944, where he worked with Professor Olaf Hougen, one of the leading academic chemical engineers in the country at the time. With Hougen, Wilke established a correlation for mass transfer in systems in which fluids flow through a bed of solid particles like catalysts. This classic correlation is used today all over the world.

Following a brief stint at Union Oil Company, Charlie joined the faculty of the College of Chemistry of the University of California, Berkeley, in 1946. Although many major universities



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