Alumnus in the News

IC alumnus and professional chemist Leroy Whinnery ’85 was in the news for an invention that may help the surfboard industry and contribute to better surfing performance for aficionados. Clark Foam was the standard supplier of the polyurethane material that manufacturers used to craft surfboards. But in late 2005, Clark Foam went out of business. Whinnery, a chemist at Sandia National Laboratories and a surfer as well, realized that material he had been working on to protect electronics from shock and vibration might fit the surfboard bill. “I had this foam, and it was white, fairly low density, ridged, closed cell; all these features that I knew you’d want in a surfboard.” Working with colleagues from Sandia, Whinnery put TufFoam to the test, and it passed with flying colors. In fact, IC chemistry alumni Chris Binns ’03 and Matt Sprague ’05 worked with Whinnery on some of the early development, during their summer internships at Sandia. Whinnery says that TufFoam can be made for about the same price as other products. Another bonus is that it has none of the toxic environmental impact of traditional polyurethanes. The future of surfboard production is looking up, thanks to a chemist whose career began in the laboratories of the Ithaca College chemistry department.