Erwin A. Vogler, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Dies

Erwin Vogler with Student Harit Pitakjakpipop

Erwin A. Vogler, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Bioengineering at Penn State, died on Monday, April 3, 2017, at the Tyrone hospital. He was 64.

Vogler’s interests in Biomaterials Surface Science developed early in his career at DuPont. A strong desire to teach and pursue fundamental problems in biomaterials drew Vogler back to academics. At Penn State he developed collaborative research programs focused on the biophysical chemistry of protein adsorption, blood coagulation, and orthopedic biomaterials. The latter program has blossomed into an application of bone tissue engineering to the study of fundamental problems in osteobiology and osteopathology, especially cancer in the bone.

Dr. Vogler published more than 85 book chapters, major review articles, and scientific papers and held 41 domestic/international patents. He was a member of the Materials Research Institute and the Huck Institute of Life Sciences and served on the editorial board of the journals Biomaterials and Biomaterials and Nanobiotechnology. He was the 2005 recipient of the Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and twice served as Faculty Marshal for the College of Engineering, escorting Student Marshals from the Department of Bioengineering for whom he served as a mentor.

Born May 2, 1952, in Nova Scotia, Vogler was the son of Alfred Lloyd and Evelyn (Conrad) Vogler. He received a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Indiana University where he also held a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) post-doctoral fellowship through 1980. That same year, he started as a Research Scientist at the DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1988 he was employed as a Research Fellow/Project Manager at the Becton Dickinson Research Center, located in the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; he joined Penn State in 1999.

“I will miss our lively and engaging conversations discussing everything from Erwin’s proficiency playing the sitar he kept in his office, to the electrostatic, chemical, and hydrophobic interactions at surfaces,” said James Adair, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “Erwin was a friend, but also a profoundly intelligent person with whom it was rewarding to interact in so many ways.”

“He was my undergraduate research advisor, and the person who convinced me to get my Ph.D.,” said former student Allison Cheng. “I could not have had the confidence and enthusiasm for research without his trust and support. While I wish he is still here, I know his soul is in a happy place, deriving formulas while humming 70’s music with gusto!”

"We think of him as a father," said Harit Pitakjakpipop, graduate student, Materials Science and Engineering. "He was a good man, and he was an Ombudsperson for MatSE students for a very long time."

Vogler is survived by his wife, Margaret Nork and a sister, Rita Mae Wagstaff.