Richard C. Alkire was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1941. He grew up around his parents' music business and realized early on that he wanted to teach and to play the piano, both of which he has done throughout his life. Inspired by an older brother's career choice, he studied Chemical Engineering at Lafayette College, located in his home town of Easton. While in college, he performed piano at some 300 musical events throughout the East. During that time, Professor Zbigniew Jastrzebski invited him to carry out research on the corrosion of stainless steel, and Alkire has been investigating various electrochemical systems ever since. In 1963, he entered the University of California at Berkeley to study electrochemical engineering under Professor Charles Tobias. His M.S. (1965) and Ph.D. (1968) theses were on experimental and modeling investigations of shape evolution in porous electrodes. Subsequently, under the direction of Professor Carl Wagner at the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry in Göttingen, he carried out high-temperature experiments to measure thermodynamic properties of solid-state fluoride compounds.
In 1969, he joined the Chemical Engineering faculty at the University of Illinois in Urbana. He advanced to full Professor in 1977, and served as department Head, 1986–1994, and as Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate College, 1994–1999. In ...
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