Remembering Professor Frank Filisko

Remembering Professor Frank Filisko

Professor Frank Filikso

It is with great sadness that we report that our friend and colleague, Frank Edward Filisko, died on November 11, 2008, after a two-year battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Frank was born and raised in Loraine, OH on January 29, 1942. He attended Colgate University (in Hamilton, NY) as an undergraduate where he studied physics and played football, receiving an All-American honorable mention as a fullback. He graduated with a BA in physics and math in 1964. Frank received an MS degree in solid state physics in 1966 from Purdue University. He returned to Ohio to attend Case Western Reserve University to study polymer physics.

Frank’s advisor at CWRU was S. H. Maron, co-author of a well-known textbook on thermodynamics. Frank became involved in this field, making measurements of the heats of solution of several polymers into selected solvents for his thesis. The papers from his thesis were well-regarded, as based on the relatively large numbers of citations. Frank received his Ph.D. from CWRU in 1969 but stayed on as a post-doctoral fellow, working with Phillip Geil studying native (rat tail tendon) collagen.

In 1970, Frank joined the University of Michigan Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering as an Assistant Professor. When the Department split into separate chemical and metallurgical branches, Frank stayed with Metallurgical Engineering, which is now known as the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He was promoted to Professor in 1984.

Frank had been active in the Macromolecular Science & Engineering Program since its founding in 1978. He was the Acting Director from 1987 through 1995. At the time, there was some thought that the “Macro” Program might cease to exist, but if any one person kept it alive, it was Frank.

Frank loved teaching and he loved research. He excelled at teaching the introductory materials science and engineering course (MSE 220). He also taught a polymers course, kinetics course, senior design course, and during his last term of teaching, a junior-level lab. A popular course among students was his Applied Polymer Processing. Frank was sometimes willing to accommodate even small numbers of students by giving the same lectures twice in the same week at different times, if that were necessary for the students’ schedules. Another popular course was one in which Frank started, the Biomaterials course (MSE 410/BioMed 410).

For his research, Frank always liked to work directly with his students.  He felt that as a mentor he would be most successful when he was in the lab working alongside them, experiencing their successes, and maybe having to periodically fix their instruments. In addition to making thermodynamic measurements on polymers early in his career, Frank received even greater notice for his work on electrorheological fluids (fluids that change their flow properties, mainly viscosity, in the presence of electric fields). This work has been quite heavily cited. As a result, Frank was invited for research and conferences all around the world.

Frank also had a long and productive association with the School of Dentistry and the Department of Biologic and Materials Science. Papers from that collaboration involved typical biomaterial concerns, like cytotoxicity, protein adsorption, thrombogenesis, hemocompatibility, and maxillofacial applications.

Frank is survived by his wife of 38 years, Doris (Call) Filisko; daughter, Theresa Rowe and husband, Chris; sons, Andrew and Edward; grandchildren, Carmen and Christian Rowe and Orion Garrett Filisko; sisters, Eileen Baran and Elaine Kozak; brother, Joseph; and many nieces and nephews. As his children were growing up, Frank participated in many of their activities, including being a football coach and scout master. He was also an avid harmonica player and successful home brewer.

Frank will be greatly missed by faculty, students, and staff.