Ivan Catton, professor emeritus of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, died June 12 after a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was 86.
Catton, an alumnus who joined the UCLA faculty in 1967, was an internationally acclaimed scholar in the field of heat transfer.
“Ivan Catton was an icon in the field of heat transfer, and a long-standing and highly regarded member of UCLA and the entire mechanical engineering community,” said Jayathi Murthy, the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of UCLA Engineering, whose own research specializes in heat transfer. “He was a valued member of our faculty for decades, and will be greatly missed by his colleagues and by generations of our students who have benefitted from the breadth and depth of his knowledge.”
Catton’s original research interests were in solar energy, and early in his career at UCLA, he developed courses in atmospheric dispersion. However, the oil boycott of 1973 dramatically altered his research direction, as did the serendipitous arrival of Professor David Okrent, an eminent researcher in nuclear safety. For the next decade, Catton shifted his research interests to the application of transport phenomena (heat, mass and momentum) for the design and safety of nuclear power plants.