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Biographical Memoirs: VOLUME 78
ROBERT FRANKLIN MEHL
March 30, 1898–January 29, 1976
BY C. S. SMITH AND W. W. MULLINS
ROBERT FRANKLIN MEHL played a vital role in the transition of nineteenth-century metallurgy into the much broader field of materials science and engineering, which combines structural and physical approaches to the nature and use of materials with the earlier chemical-analytical framework. His contributions were at several levels: partly in the research he himself did, partly in his effective advocacy of a more fundamental approach to materials, and partly in his establishment of a new concept for a curriculum for the education of metallurgists. According to one of his closest associates, F. N. Rhines, Mehl's strongest points were: “(1) ability to identify and exploit areas ripe for development, (2) ability to inspire deep interest in scientific pursuits, and (3) foresight in developing the curriculum in physical metallurgy. ”
Robert Franklin Mehl was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on March 30, 1898. His grandfather had emigrated from the vicinity of Munich following the revolution of 1848. His father, whose formal education terminated before high school, became a manager in a Lancaster department store. His mother, May Ward, was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, of English and German parentage. On December 27,