By: Dr. Raúl Rebak
Professor Susan Smialowska died at her home in Zalesie (Poland) on Thursday 05-March–2015. She was 89 years old. On 11-March–2015, she was laid to rest in Warsaw next to her husband Michal Smialowski.
Prof. Smialowska was born on 23-August–1925, in Lwów (then Poland, now Lviv Ukraine). In her youth, she belonged to Harcerz (Polish scouts) and she was quite athletic, specializing in the hurdles. She finished her high school education under German occupation. After World War II ended, the family (with her parents and younger sister Romualda) moved to Poland, where she graduated with a Master of Science (1948), and a Ph.D., (1952) in Chemical Engineering from the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice (Silesia). There, she met her future husband Professor Michal Smialowski. In 1952 Susan and her husband Michal moved to Warsaw where they worked at the Warsaw University of Technology and later at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences until 1982. Professor Smialowska was the head of the Electrochemistry and Corrosion Laboratory at the Institute. In 1971 she published her famous book “Inhibitory korozji metali (Metal Corrosion Inhibitors).” During her years at the Polish Academy of Sciences, she was very active in publishing technical research and participating in international conferences in corrosion and hydrogen effects in metals. In some old photographs from conference proceedings in the 1960s and 70s, Prof. Smialowska often appears as a solitary female figure in a sea of white men. In 1973 and then in 1978–1979, Prof. Smialowska was a visiting scientist at The Ohio State University.
In March 1982 Professor Smialowska moved to Columbus (Ohio) in the USA to work at the Fontana Corrosion Center in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering of The Ohio State University. AT OSU, she taught corrosion and was passionate about research. She published near 300 technical papers that are cited continuously today. The major areas of her technical research included: kinetics and mechanisms of electrode processes, passivity of various metals and alloys, pitting corrosion, stress corrosion cracking, corrosion inhibitors, hydrogen embrittlement, aqueous corrosion at high temperatures (for nuclear power plants), and ellipsometry and its application in corrosion studies. For several years and until her retirement she served as Director of the Fontana Corrosion Center. While at Ohio State, she wrote her best seller book “Pitting Corrosion of Metals” (buy at Amazon) first published in 1986, and then in a revised and expanded version as “Pitting and Crevice Corrosion” published in 2005 (buy at the NACE Store). Prof. Smialowska received the NACE International Fellowship Award and, in 1998, the Cavallaro Medal from the European Federation of Corrosion. She also served in the editorial board of the journal Corrosion Science.
Professor Smialowska retired from teaching at OSU in 1995 but remained as an Emerita Professor at Ohio State completing the second edition of her book on localized corrosion. She traveled back and forth to Poland for several years and finally decided to move back permanently to her country home in Zalesie in 2009.
Prof. Smialowska had a technical tenacity that served her well in her interactions with others. She had strong beliefs and argued them with passion. In the professional side, she never saw herself as a woman scientist, but just as a scientist, never claimed privileges for being a minority. On the personal side, she was warm and charming, and never boring, but also could be biting in her observations. She loved reading and she loved art, animals, and gardens. Whenever there was a conference somewhere in the world she always took a few hours off to visit interesting places, museums, zoos, landscapes, etc. with colleagues and students. She was thrifty with herself but generous with others. In winter she kept her house on the colder side and carried food when she traveled to avoid expensive meals at restaurants. Most of all, she enjoyed talking about her niece Agata and her grandniece Maya and grandnephew Kayo. Besides Agata, Maya, and Kayo, she is survived by her sister Romualda.
About the Author
Raúl B. Rebak studied chemical engineering at the Universidad Nacional de Misiones (Argentina) between 1974 and 1982. He then received a national scholarship to work at the Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (Argentine Commission of Atomic Energy) between 1983 and 1988. In 1989, he joined the Ohio State University Materials Science Department, where he received a Ph.D. degree in corrosion and metallurgy in 1993. From 1996 to 2000, Raúl worked as a corrosion engineer at Haynes International in Indiana, and from 2001 to 2007, at the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 2007, Raul joined General Electric Global Research Center in Schenectady, NY, where he provides his experience in corrosion science and corrosion engineering applications in areas such as nuclear, oil and gas, energy storage, aviation, etc. Raúl has more than 30 years of experience and published over 200 technical articles in corrosion. He is very active in technical societies and technical committees at, for example, ASTM International, NACE International, ASM International, and TMS where he served as chair of numerous committees and symposia. He was chair of NACE International San Francisco Bay section and of ASM International Eastern New York chapter. Raúl is a fellow of NACE International.