Bruno John Zwolinski

On the morning of October 25, 2010, Bruno passed away peacefully at his home in College Station.

Ever the teacher, in keeping with Bruno’s wishes and his lifetime joy of serving as an educator, his body was donated to the TAMU Health Science Center for research and teaching purposes. A memorial service in celebration of Bruno’s life is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, November 6, 2010 at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in College Station.

Dr. Bruno John Zwolinski was born November 4, 1919 in Buffalo, New York, the second of five children born to Bronislaus and Elizabeth Zwolinski. Fueled by the love of his family, Bruno focused on academics, research, and teaching students. His early years of preparation included earning multiple degrees in science: B.S. in Chemistry from Canisius College in 1941, M.S. in Physics from Purdue University in 1943, and an M.A. from Princeton University in 1944. He accepted a position at Columbia University to work on the Manhattan Project in 1944, and in 1947, completed his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Princeton University in chemical kinetics as a student of renowned researcher, Professor Henry Eyring.

For the next 13 years his research continued at the University of Utah, Stanford Research Institute, the National Science Foundation and Carnegie Tech. Bruno was recruited to join the faculty of Texas A&M University (TAMU) by President Earl Rudder in 1960 at the rank of Full Professor as well as an appointment on the Graduate Faculty. Zwolinski brought immediate funding from various American Petroleum Institute Projects and founded the prestigious Thermodynamics Research Center (TRC) at TAMU. As TRC Director, Bruno wrote hundreds of funded proposals, to supplement grants he brought to TAMU from Carnegie Tech and supported a large research staff.

During the 1964–65 academic years, Dr. Zwolinski was appointed as head of the TAMU Chemistry department. He then returned to direct the TRC, teach, and guide the research of graduate students. For nearly 20 years, Zwolinski was also the Editor-in-Chief of the ACS Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data in addition to his research and teaching work. His research writings included over 400 peer-reviewed papers, monographs, and contributions to classical and statistical thermodynamics that remain important today.

The great majority of his career at TAMU was spent recruiting an exceptional international team of science researchers to obtain, evaluate, and publish the most precise, reliable thermodynamic property data on hydrocarbons (key to the oil and gas industry) and nonhydrocarbons (important to the electronics industry). The TRC Handbooks of Physical Chemistry reference data today are still on library and research bookshelves throughout the world.

A disciplined taskmaster, a man of legendary recall and tenacity, Bruno possessed the ability to break all insurmountable problems down into units that could be approached using the fundamental first principles of thermodynamics. “Dr. Z”, as he was affectionately known, held the esteem of his many colleagues and students throughout his years at TAMU. Upon his retirement in 1991, he received the title of Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry. His legacy in College Station and Texas A&M is found in the many PhD. and M.S. students of Physical Chemistry who studied with him. A TAMU Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Physical Chemistry bearing his name was established in 1992 in tribute to his career as an educator.

One of the many things Bruno enjoyed with his family was traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah and visiting Fork Clark Springs in Brackettville, Texas.

He was preceded in death by Margery Williams Zwolinski, his wife of 52 years.

Survivors include three children; sons, Jan Scott “Jay” and wife, Jennifer; and their son, David, Bruno Jeffrey “Jeff” wife, Barbara; and grandson, Joseph Jeffrey; daughter, Maria Clarissa “Mia”. Bruno is also survived by his sister, Emily Zolin, of College Station.

The family also appreciates the loving care given to “Dr. Z” by Marcy Avila, Oneida Avila, Liz Zamora, Connie Blanco, Rosa Morales, Janie Walker, David Palasota, and the wonderful professionals at Choice Home Healthcare.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Bruno John Zwolinski Endowed Graduate Fellowship for TAMU Chemistry graduate students, and sent c/o Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, TX 77840-2811, or to the charity of your choice.


  1. Mia, my deepest sympathy at the loss of your father. My thoughts and prayers go out to you. He sounded like a wonderful man and you were blessed to have him for a father. Cherish your memories.

  2. Mia and Family, I was very sorry to hear of your father’s passing. He was a true national hero for the work he did alongside other ultra-elite scientists assembled at SAM Laboratories, Columbia Univ, in support of the Manhattan Project. Very few people know dozens of processes developed and perfected there were essential to ‘the bomb’ becoming reality in Los Alamos – instead of just remaining theory. A reality that made an invasion of Japan unnecessary, thus literally saving the lives of tens of thousands of U.S. GIs. From Columbia your father went on to spend several decades greatly enhancing the lives of literally thousands of students and hundreds of colleagues, as well as leading numerous research projects to the great benefit of U.S. industry. You and your family created such a beautiful, loving, and fitting tribute. May the many great memories you have of him and the pride you feel when thinking of his many major accomplishments bring great strength to each of you.
    Kind Regards, Tom Purcell

  3. Dear Mia,
    I was in the middle of spell check and think the message got sent while I was trying to unscramble the message…there is humor in everything I guess!

    Rodney and I wanted you to know we were thinking about you and your family. We were saddened by the news of your father. Your dad was quite a presence in the Chemistry Department for many years. We enjoyed the company of your parents in our Gourmet Club many years ago. Your spirited mom kept us informed about all the family members and I remember there was joy when you returned to C.S.!
    May love and happy memories carry you through this difficult time.
    Much love to all,
    Sue and Rodney Hill

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