Dr. Channing Robertson

Ruth G. and William Bowes Professor, School of Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering, Emeritus, Stanford University


Forensic Science: An Oxymoron?


Channing Robertson, MS ’68, PhD ’70, the Ruth G. and William K. Bowes Professor in the School of Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering, Emeritus, has had a 42-year-long academic career that began when he joined the Stanford faculty in 1970. An authority in the field of biotechnology, he has spent much of his career developing an understanding of mammalian kidney function, designing and developing advanced drug delivery systems for therapeutic applications, designing bioreactors for pharmaceutical manufacture, and studying the molecular structure of proteins near or at solid and liquid interfaces.  His work has emphasized the intermingling or biology and medicine with fluid mechanics and transport phenomena. As a faculty member, he co-chaired a group that provided the leadership for Stanford’s path-breaking BioX Initiative, which focuses on leading-edge research in basic, applied and clinical sciences.  Professor Robertson has given expert testimony in a number of high-profile trials, such as the Stringfellow Superfund toxic waste site in Southern California in the early 1990s, the Minnesota Tobacco Trial in the late 1990s and the class action lawsuit against the manufacturers of the Dalkon shield and Copper 7 intrauterine devices in the 1980s.  He is a member of the World Health Organization Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation and is active in enacting the articles of a global treaty he helped to formulate directed at addressing issues associated with nicotine addiction and the adverse health effects of smoked and smokeless tobacco products.  In 2009, he co-authored a National Academy of Science report calling for a complete overhaul of how forensic analysis is conducted in the U.S. He also co-authored the chapter entitled “Reference Guide on Engineering” in the latest edition of the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, a resource used by all Federal Court and most State Court judges in the country.  He has been involved with numerous start-up companies as co-founder and consultant.  He has published more than 160 articles in peer-reviewed journals.  Although emeritus, he continues to carry a full teaching load.  His courses include a year-long graduate seminar in the biosciences, two sophomore seminars, one on the environment and the other on engineering design, a course on energy and a course on critical and analytical thinking in the Business School.  A seasoned traveler, Dr. Robertson was the faculty leader for the Stanford Travel/Study ski trips in the US and Europe.  This past summer he led a one week Stanford sponsored hiking trip across the Picos de Europa mountain range in northern Spain.  He is a private pilot, an avid fly fisherman, and continues to lead the annual Stanford ski trip.