Robert David Finch

Acoustical Society of America

Biennial Award


Robert David Finch

Robert David Finch was born at Westcliffon-on-Sea on 18 August 1938. He obtained a baccalaureate degree at Imperial College, London, in 1959 (BSc in Physics). He went on to graduate work at Chelsea College, London, where he obtained a MSc in Physics in 1960, and Imperial College, London, where he was granted a PhD in Physics in 1963. His interests in acoustics started early in his career; his Master's work was entitled "Behavior of Particles in Sound Fields" and his PhD dissertation, done under Professor R. W. B. Stephens, was entitled "Sonoluminescence in Liquids under Varying Conditions."

Subsequent to his graduation from Imperial College, he obtained a postdoctoral appointment at the University of California in Los Angeles, where he worked in the Physics Department with Professor I. Rudnick. In 1965 he joined the faculty of the University of Houston in the Department of Mechanical Engineering as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to his current rank of Associate Professor in 1967. In addition, in 1970 he was appointed Chairman of the Cullen College of Engineering Interdisciplinary Committee on Acoustics.

He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and a member of the American Physical Society, The Society of the Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, and Pi Tau Sigma; the latter two societies are honorary organizations in engineering and mechanical engineering, respectively.

From this bare bones, we should flesh out the man. On the professional side, we see a physicist and yet, as Robert himself puts it, (he believes) he has the animal cunning to be a good engineer. The former is evident by the long standing interest in research work leading to the understanding of physical phenomena—especially, sonoluminescence and cavitation nucleation. On the other hand, he has furnished consulting services in acoustics to organizations with a broad range of particular problems in noise control, underwater design, applied ultrasonics, and the acoustic properties of building materials.

Further to the same goal, in concert with colleagues at the University of Houston, he was instrumental in organizing a consulting firm, Applied Acoustics Corporation, of which he is President.

He has been principal investigator of several projects involved with research on cavitation in liquid helium (National Science Foundation), the acoustic excitation of railway wheels (Department of Transportation), and underwater horns (Office of Naval Research).

Within the Acoustical Society of America, he has served on the Committee on Education in Acoustics, the Technical Committee on Physical Acoustics, and he has served on the Organizing Committee of both the 72nd and 80th Meetings of the Society. He has also served as a member of the American Society of Engineering Education Committee on Education in Acoustics. He is broadening his interests further by becoming active in the standards activities sponsored by the Society in the field of ultrasonics.

Robert's research publications are both theoretical and experimental in nature. The most note-worthy are concerned with attempting to understand the theories of sonoluminescence and cavitation nucleation, particularly the latter. Some of these he has done alone, sometimes he has worked with others. He is generous with credit to contributors to any particular research piece. His students find this a highly desirable attribute. In any case, the papers are models of exposition indicating clear understanding of both the obvious and subtle.

On the personal side, he is married and he and his wife Sheila have two children (Matthew and Christine). Their interests tend more to the quiet than the exuberant, chess for him and continued study in French for her.

Thus, we can conjure the image of the 1972 Biennial Award recipient as a thoroughly professional acoustician with broad interests in the field beyond the special work for which he is being cited. A classical physicist with the animal cunning of an engineer. A gentle man with the verve, drive, and obstinacy to achieve many goals.