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March 22, 2001

OBITUARY: Neil Birks

Neil Birks, professor emeritus in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, died March 8, 2001. He was 65.

Birks had been a member of the materials science and engineering department since 1978. He was acting chair from May 1988 to August 1989.

He served on the Pitt International Program committee and the University Senate tenure and academic freedom committee.

Birks's areas of teaching and research were high temperature corrosion and process metallurgy. He was internationally recognized for his research on corrosion in mixed gases and the erosion of metallic alloys at high temperatures.

Birks coauthored "Introduction to High Temperature Oxidation of Metals and Alloys," which was widely used in the field and translated into Russian and Japanese.

"Anyone who knew Neil knew he was a wonderful scholar and an even better person," said Gerald H. Meier, interim chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. "He was respectful of everyone, colleagues, students, those taking his viewpoint and those taking the opposite one. He was also a wonderful family man."

Birks earned a bachelor's with honors in 1957 and a Ph.D. in 1960, both in metallurgy, from the University of Sheffield, U.K., the city of his birth.

From 1960 to 1962, Birks was a NATO Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institut fŸr Physikalische Chemie, G‰t-tingen, West Germany. He was a research investigator for United Steel Companies in Rotherdam, England, from 1962 to 1964 and a lecturer and senior lecturer at Sheffield University from 1964 to 1978.

Birks was widely published and a member of numerous professional associations, including the Institute of Metals (London), the Electrochemical Society and the American Society for Metals. He spent several summers teaching in Argentina and Mexico.

Birks is survived by his wife Mary, son David, daughter Jane and three grandchildren.

The family requests memorial donations be sent to the Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church, 3319 W. Liberty Ave., Dormont.

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