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Professor Emeritus Marrero’s life full of accomplishments

Portrait of Thomas Marrero

The University of Missouri College of Engineering lost a longtime member of its community when chemical engineering professor emeritus Thomas Marrero died Dec. 2. Marrero was a member of the Chemical Engineering Department faculty for 35 years before his retirement in December 2014.

The University of Missouri College of Engineering lost a longtime member of its community when Thomas Marrero, chemical engineering professor emeritus, died Dec. 2 at age 79.

Marrero was a member of the Chemical Engineering Department faculty for 35 years before his retirement in December 2014. During his MU career, he advised 26 undergraduate and 23 honors students and played a role in either establishing or serving as a faculty adviser for student chapters of several professional organizations, including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

He also was active in many organizations on a professional level, including 50-plus years of involvement with AIChE, which named him a fellow in 2004 and gave him one of its 13 inaugural Pioneers of Diversity Awards just before his death. The award was given in recognition of “his dedication to MAC [Minority Affairs Committee] and for his mentorship of Hispanic chemical engineers in AIChE and the profession.”

After 15 years of industrial experience and a stint as a visiting professor at Texas A&M, Marrero joined the MU faculty on Aug. 1, 1979 and became a full professor in 1997. Many of his courses focused on environmental engineering — including courses on chemodynamics, air pollution control, hazardous waste management and sustainable energy — and he was the first to teach a chemical engineering course in the Honors College.

“I taught mostly the environmental classes because most of the younger professors weren’t into that for their research,” Marrero said upon his retirement. “So I selected a topic that was unique.”

In terms of research, Marrero published 35 peer-reviewed journal articles and held five U.S. patents to go along with four U.S. patent disclosures. Perhaps his most notable research work at MU came alongside Henry Liu, the late civil engineering professor. The two developed a way to compact coal and various solids into cylinders to be transported through a pipeline by a stream of water, a method that used one-third to one-fourth less water than transporting the same amount through a slurry pipeline. This project eventually led to the creation of the Capsule Pipeline Research Center, which was one of the first four National Science Foundation State/Industry University Cooperative Research Centers in the U.S. and the first pipeline research center at a Missouri university.

“Tom’s 35 years of dedicated service and commitment to the College of Engineering are deeply appreciated,” former interim dean Robert Schwartz said upon Marrero’s retirement.

Marrero is survived by his three children, seven grandchildren and three sisters.

“My deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and loved ones,” Chemical Engineering Department Chair Baolin Deng said.