Richard D. Gilbert

Professor Emeritus, Textiles and Forest Resources
North Carolina State University

Richard Dean Gilbert Born March 14, 1920 Died June 21, 2005
Years of Service Textiles 1966 –1990 Forest Resources 1990-2005


Richard D. Gilbert was born on March 14, 1920 in Winnipeg, Canada.  He was the son of James W.B. Gilbert and Florence Alice Gilbert.  He received his B.Sc. (Honors) in 1942 and his M.Sc. in 1943 from the University of Manitoba.  He was chief chemist at the Manitoba Sugar Co. and a research chemist at the Polymer Corp before receiving his Ph.D. from Notre Dame University in 1950.  He did a postdoctoral at the Department of National Defense, Canada and then joined the American Synthetic Rubber Co.   In 1955 he moved to Uniroyal Chemical Co. and rose to Section Manager in charge of research, development and technical service for all products produced by emulsion polymerization.

In 1966 he directed a research project sponsored by Uniroyal in which textile warp size formulations were evaluated.  Following this project he accepted a faculty position in 1966 at North Carolina State University in the Department of Textile Chemistry.  He was asked to aid in the establishment of a Ph.D. program in Fiber and Polymer Science. The program was approved in 1967.  He developed the cumulative examination system for the program, which is still in place.

Along with Solomon P. Hersh, Subhash Batra, Paul Tucker, and Raymond Fornes, Gilbert was a major player in the research to solve the problems associated with the inhalation of cotton dust generated during cotton processing.  The pulmonary disease was called byssinosis.  Beginning in 1973, this project became the largest integrated research program in the School of Textiles. (2)

Gilbert was an enthusiastic research professor who worked closely with his students.  His office on the second floor of the David Clark Lab was always open and students came by frequently to discuss their research progress.  In addition to the sponsored grants he received, Richard was always looking for more local support for his programs and his students.  He always kept a “Shopping List” of needed items in his desk drawer.  Asthe academic year drew to a close, and there were a few extra dollars that needed to be spent, he was ready.

Playing a game of tennis
School of Textiles News

Over sixty graduate students both M.S. and Ph.D. completed their degrees under his mentorship.  Their research has resulted in about 200 publications in refereed journals.  To support his graduate students he generated as Principle Investigator or Co-Investigator over $ 10,000,000 in research awards and contracts.  In 1983 he was appointed the first Alumni Distinguished Professor in Graduate Education.  He also received an Outstanding Teacher Award at NC State and was designated as a member of the Academy of Outstanding Teachers. In 2001 he was awarded The Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal, the highest award granted by the NC State University Board of Trustees.

He initiated the High School Summer Research Program in the College of Textiles in 1975.   The program led to an increase in undergraduate students with high SAT scores in the College.  The program continues today.   He also aided in the establishment of an Honors Program in the College.

In 1990, he transferred to the College of Forest Resources where he served as Graduate Administrator and served as a member of numerous graduate study programs.

Richard Gilbert was married twice and had one daughter, Laura; his second wife Doris lives in Wake County.

Charles Price, left, Research Advisor at Notre Dame and Gilbert, his student


Photos from Research Symposium held in honor of Dick Gilbert, 1990
Photos courtesy Raymond  Fornes

Right: Henry A. Rutherford, Left, and Gilbert

Selected publications (of more than 160):

  1. “X-Ray Diffraction Studies of ABA Propylene-Ethylene Block Copolymers,” J. Appl. Polymer Sci. 25 2589-2595 (1980); P. Prabhu, R.E. Fornes and R.D. Gilbert.
  2. “Chemical Modification of Cured MY 720/DDS Epoxy to Reduce Moisture Sensitivity,” J. Polymer Sci.- Chem. Ed. 25:1235-1248 (1987); H.P. Hu, R.E. Fornes, R.D. Gilbert and J.D. Memory.
  3. Raymond E. Fornes, Richard D. Gilbert, Editors; Herman Mark, Honorary Editor, “Polymer and fiber science: recent advances,” VCH Publishers 1992, 403 pages
  4. Richard D. Gilbert, Editor, “Cellulosic Polymers Blends and Composites”, Hanser Gardner Publications, January 1994, 244 pages.

US Patents:

  1. Amos N. Johnson, Richard D. Gilbert, US Patent 3,905,376, “ Pedicure Prosthesis for the Metatarsal Arch of the Foot, Filed Oct 30,1973, Issued
  2. Richard D. Gilbert, Vivian T. Stannett, Soojaa L. Kim, US Patent 3,950,282 “Polyanhydroglucose Biodegradable Polymers and Process of Preparation,” Filed Dec 6, 1974, Issued Apr 13, 1976
  3. John F. Kadla, Richard D. Gilbert, Richard A. Venditti, Satoshi Kubo, US Patent 6,765,028, “Porous Fibers from natural/synthetic polymer blends,” Filed Dec 16, 2002 Issued Jul 20, 2004.


  1. Raymond E. Fornes, Personal communication, March 2012.
  2. Mock, Gary N., A Century of Progress: The Textile Program North Carolina State University 1899-1999North Carolina Textile Foundation, Raleigh, 2001.