In Memoriam: Burtron H. “Burt” Davis (1934 -2018)

It is with great sadness that I write to share with you the passing of Burtron H. “Burt” Davis on September 28th.

Burt Davis was an outstanding scientist and intellect holding prolific scholarly track records, and constant source of humorous tales for decades. He had a hobby of collecting research on the greatest scientists of our time, including his mentor Dr. Paul Emmett. He is irreplaceable, and will be missed by many of us. Please keep his family, friends, and colleagues in your thoughts.

Burt Davis, an investigator, Associate Director and Interim Director of Center for Applied Energy Research, University of Kentucky, enjoyed a highly successful career of research and scholarship, being widely recognized as the ultimate authority on Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. He held numerous offices and memberships in several professional societies, including the American Chemical Society (ACS), the North American Catalysis Society, TriState Catalysis Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Materials Research Society. He authored/co-authored over 850 publications and received four Elsevier most-cited author awards. Burt was awarded the prestigious Henry H. Storch Award in Fuel Science in 2002 by ACS for his significant contributions in catalysis, Fischer−Tropsch synthesis, and coal conversion research. In 2011, he became an ACS Fellow. In 2013, he earned ACS’s Energy and Fuels Division’s Distinguished Researcher Award in Petroleum Chemistry. In 2014, he was presented to the Distinguished Service award by the NACS, and the “Distinguished West Virginian Award” by then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.

Burt Davis received his B.S. degree in chemistry from West Virginia University, M.S. from St. Joseph’s University while he was working at Atlantic Refining, and PhD from University of Florida. He worked under Paul Emmett as a post-doctorate researcher on catalysis at the John Hopkins University.

He worked at Mobil for four years, where he discovered a platinum-10 catalyst for converting gasoline from low-octane to high-octane. After seven years of teaching at Potomac State College as an Associate Professor of Chemistry, Davis followed his great passion for research, and started working at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy where he was responsible for catalysis, Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis and direct coal liquefaction research. He created a program that involved both academic research and cooperative research with industry. He has developed a laboratory with extensive capability in use the of radioactive and stable isotopes in reaction mechanism studies and materials characterization and developed research programs in Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis, surface science studies, heterogeneous catalysis, materials science, organic analysis, 1/4 ton per day direct coal liquefaction pilot plant operation, liquefaction mechanistic studies, clean gasoline reforming with superacid catalysts, and upgrading naphthas.

A Funeral service for Burt Davis will be held on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at Johnson’s Funeral Home at 4:00 pm. Funeral Service Information: www.johnsonsfuneralhome.com/book-of-memories/3619109/Davis-Burtron/service-details.php

In Memoriam: Frank S. Stone (1925-2018)

Frank Stone’s death on March 5th deprived the scientific community of an elder statesman, famed for studies of catalysis and solid-state chemistry. Born in 1925 in Bristol, England, and educated at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School, Bristol, he excelled in Classics and Sciences, but preferred the latter, studying Chemistry at the University of Bristol; graduating with first class honours in 1945.

He undertook postgraduate research with Professor W. E. Garner, linking the catalytic activities of binary inorganic oxides with their semi-conducting characteristics. Thereafter, he proceeded to post-doctoral studies in photochemistry at Princeton University, USA, with the distinguished physical chemist, Hugh S. Taylor. Returning to Bristol, he investigated heterogeneous catalytic reactions through adsorption calorimetry. The importance of the “electronic factor” to heterogeneous catalysis led Stone to doping binary oxides with the alter-valent ions, and to measuring the magnetic properties of ternary oxides. Enduring associations were established with Italian and Spanish research groups; notably with Alessandro Cimino, a contemporary at Princeton, at the Universities of Perugia and Rome, assessing specific catalytic activities of isolated surface ionic sites; and with co-workers of J. F. Garcia de la Banda (CSIC, Madrid), who worked previously with Garner, to study the cracking of hydrocarbons on transition metal-doped zeolites. Between 1955-65, Frank Stone pioneered research on heterogeneous photocatalysis on finely-divided oxides, solid-state reactions for spinel formation, and adsorption on supported metallic particles.

He became European Editor of the Journal of Catalysis in 1970, a task at which he excelled for 26 years, in which his literary acumen and facility with foreign languages earned him huge respect, especially from non-English-speaking authors, who were grateful to him for his tactful suggestions for improving manuscripts.

In 1972 Frank Stone became Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Bath, where, with Adriano Zecchina and Edoardo Garrone of the University of Turin, he applied UV-Visible Diffuse Reflectance- and Infra-Red Spectroscopies to oxide surfaces of alkaline-earth elements, identifying 3-, 4-, and 5-fold coordinated adsorption sites, and revealing a pink oligomeric form of adsorbed carbon monoxide. In later years he held the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor. Frank Stone was an outstanding lecturer. He authored more than 120 scientific papers; many have withstood the “wear of time”. He was a founding- committee member of the triennial Rideal Conference Series, and was a regular attendee until 2011/12.

He met his future wife, Joan, also a student, in wartime Bristol. They became volunteer fire-watchers, studying by day and fulfilling their night-time duties from the rooftops of the University buildings. A family man, who enjoyed gardening, cycling, and travel. He took many camping holidays across Europe, a practice continued until late in life and held annual summer camps for his research group in the Welsh Mountains or on Exmoor. He was a regularly-attending member of the Bristol Scientific Society until shortly before his death.
 
Roger I. Bickley
Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK

In Memoriam: Kozo Tanabe (1926-2018)

Professor Kozo Tanabe passed away on April 24, 2018 at the age of 91.

Kozo Tanabe was born on May 7, 1926 in Takeda, Oita prefecture, Japan. He studied Chemistry at Hokkaido University and graduated in 1951. He joined the Research Institute of Catalysis, Hokkaido University and received a PhD in 1956. He remained on the faculty of the Research Institute of Catalysis and was promoted to Professor in 1960. In 1965, he moved to the Department of Chemistry at Hokkaido University, where he retired to become Professor Emeritus in 1990.

Professor Tanabe carried out early seminal work in acid-base catalysis by solids and discovered the essential role of acid-base pairs in conferring unique reactivity and selectivity by stabilizing intermediates through concerted interactions. He was a prolific and highly-cited author with more than 300 research publication and 10 books. Among these, the book entitled “Solid Acids and Bases” set the fundamental underpinnings for the interpretation of the reactivity of oxides and mixed oxides in catalytic reactions and for the benefits of an appropriate balance in strength between the acid and base active centers.

His achievements were recognized with many distinctions, among them several awards from the Chemical Society and the Catalysis Society of Japan and the Japan Institute of Petroleum. He was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon and the Order of the Sacred Treasure. Professor Tanabe served as President of the Catalysis Society of Japan and as Vice president of the Chemical Society of Japan. His profound influence on the field led to the creation of the “Kozo Tanabe Prize for Acid-Base Catalysis” in his honor; this prize is stewarded by the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Acid-Base Catalysis Symposium.

Professor Tanabe was a teacher and mentor for many generations of catalysis scientists at Hokkaido University and in the catalysis community at-large. He is also remembered as a humble and gentle scholar whose vast wisdom and knowledge he was always so willing to share.
 
(Prepared by Hideshi Hattori, Johannes Lercher, and Enrique Iglesia)

In Memoriam: Robert K. Grasselli (1931-2018)

Robert Grasselli obtained his bachelor degree from Harvard in 1952, after wining a scholarship from the Technical University in Graz, Austria. He obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Case-Western Reserve University, Cleveland, from where he proceeded to Sohio as a research scientist. After leaving Sohio he worked at the US Office of Naval Research, Washington, where he was Director of Chemical Research, and then at Mobil Corporation. From 1996 to 2006 he was Guest Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Munich and, simultaneously, Adjunct Full Professor in Chemical Engineering at the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology in the University of Delaware at Newark. Later he became Distinguished Affiliated Professor at the Technical University of Munich (2006-2018).

Dr. Robert A. Grasselli was a highly accomplished and innovative industrial chemist, renowned for his seminal contributions to the design, development, and commercial exploitation of novel solid catalysis. Inventor in 160 U.S. patents, he was instrumental in developing a fundamentally new method of producing the polymer precursor, acrylonitrile. The key innovation in this one-step process was the use microcrystalline bismuth molybdate; the process was so effective that, after its adoption worldwide, a 50-fold increase of acrylonitrile production was achieved.

Dr. Robert Grasselli was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering (1995); inducted into the US National Hall of Fame for Engineering, Science and Technology (1988); was a recipient of the American Chemical Society E. N. Morley Medal (1999); and the E. V. Murphee Award for Industrial and Engineering Chemistry in 1984. He also shared the Distinguished Award in Oxidation Catalysis from the World Oxidation Catalysis Society in Berlin (2001); and he received a doctorate, honoris causa, from the University of Bologna. He was awarded the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Prize in1995.

Dr. Grasselli combined the best of the American optimism and ‘can-do’ spirit with the old-world European cultural depth and charm of the continent of his birth. He read extensively; he loved music and was an ardent supporter of the Vienna Phillarmonic. He had a passion for skiing and for travel to far-away places. He loved gardening, unusual flora, and modern art. For the last twenty years of his life, he and his wife, Dr. Eva-Maria Hauck, spent their time in their two homes, one in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the other in Munich. He will always be remembered for his ethusiam for science that led him throughout his life to bring friends together in discussion.
 
(Prepared by Doug Buttrey, William Goddard III, and Raul Lobo)

In Memoriam: Wolfgang Sachtler (1924-2017)

Wolfgang SachtlerThe catalysis community mourns the loss of one of its formative and most influential figures, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Max Hugo Sachtler, who passed away on January 8, 2017. Born on November 8, 1924 in Delitzsch, Germany, Professor Sachtler received his PhD from the Technical University Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany in 1952, in the area of surface science. Upon graduation, he joined the Royal Dutch Shell Laboratory in Amsterdam where he stayed until retirement as Director of Fundamental Research in 1983. From 1963-84, he held a joint appointment as Professor at the National University in Leiden. He was particularly known for his insightful application of surface science concepts to catalysis. While at Shell and Leiden, he advanced the concept of relationship between metal-oxygen bond energy and the selectivity for partial oxidation products in hydrocarbon oxidations, initiated insightful discussions on whether molecular or atomic oxygen is necessary for selective epoxidation of ethylene, applied thermodynamics and experimental measurements to metal alloys to account for the effects of the surface compositions of alloys to their binding of adsorbates, and promoted the description of bimetallic catalysis in terms of ensemble and ligand effects.
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Obituary for Professor Khi-Rui Tsai

Professor Khi-Rui Tsai, a prominent professor of Xiamen University and a member of Chinese Academy of Sciences, passed away peacefully on October 3rd 2016 in Xiamen at his age of 104.

Professor Tsai is a famous physical chemist and catalysis scientist. He is a pioneer of coordination catalysis and molecular catalysis in China. In 1960s, he developed theoretical concepts of catalysis by coordination activation, and applied the principles of coordination catalysis to correlate several types of homogeneous catalysis, heterogeneous catalysis and metallo-enzyme catalysis systems. In 1970s, he and Prof. Jia-Xi Lu proposed independently, from different approaches, essentially similar cluster-structural models of Mo-nitrogenase active centers and multi-nuclear coordination activation of various types of known substrates of nitrogenase. Professor Tsai led a team at Xiamen University with an aim to bridge the gap between enzyme catalysis and heterogeneous catalysis since 1970s. He and his co-workers systematically carried out comparative studies on the models of active centers and reaction mechanisms for nitrogenase enzymes and for heterogeneous ammonia-synthesis catalysts. The team also studied the effects of ionic promoters in N2 hydrogenation to ammonia and CO hydrogenation to methanol and ethanol. Professor Tsai proposed a unique mechanism for the direct conversion of syngas to ethanol. Up to 1997, Professor Tsai published more than 200 research articles. He got three times the State Natural Science Award owing to his outstanding contribution to catalysis science. In 1999, he was awarded the He-Liang-He-Li Foundation Award for Progress in Science and Technology.

In addition to the scientific activity, Professor Tsai also served as a member of the 3rd national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the deputy to the 3rd, 4th and 5th National People’s Congress and a member of the Academic Degree Commission of the State Council. He was the vice president of Xiamen University and the director of the Scientific Academic Committee of Xiamen University. Professor Tsai also served as a council member of International Association of Catalysis Societies (IACS). Professor Tsai is also a big educator. He was a remarkable ambassador for Xiamen University and a shining example of what all educators should aspire to be. He imbued his students with firm ideals and beliefs, provided them with a strong moral compass, guided them using his incredible wealth of knowledge, and treated them all with benevolence.

Professor Tsai’s passing is a massive loss not only to Xiamen University but also to the catalysis community in China. Professor Tsai will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, students and those who work in catalysis field.

In Memoriam: Juan F. Garcia de la Banda (1921-2015)

Juan_F_Garcia_de_la_BandaJuan Francisco García de la Banda was born in Madrid (Spain) in 1921. He studied Chemistry and Mathematics in the Universities of Valladolid, Oviedo and Madrid, completing his Bachelor Degree in 1943. In 1948 he presented his PhD dissertation (“Relation between calorific conductivity and vapor pressure of high boiling point substances”) supervised by Professors Foz-Gazulla and Colomina and carried out at the Instituto de Química Física “Rocasolano” (IQFR) of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

He studied in Bristol between 1951 and 1952 with Professor William E. Garner with Dr. Dennis A. Dowden at the Catalysis Group at ICI. Afterwards, he returned to Spain, within the framework of the IQFR and founded the “Laboratory on Catalysis”, which became the birthplace of the Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica (ICP) in 1975. He was the first Director of the ICP and the individual most responsible for enhancing the scope and quality of research in catalysis and biocatalysis in Spain.

He participated in the First International Conference on Catalysis (ICC) held in Philadelphia in 1956 and maintained personal and professional links with many U.S. catalysis researchers, especially through his personal friendship with Dr. Heinz Heinemann throughout their careers. He proposed and organized the 1st Iberoamerican Symposium on Catalysis, held in Madrid in 1968, the first in a series that will celebrate its 25th edition this year in Montevideo.

Professor Garcia de la Banda served in several influential positions within the research and development and scientific structure at the highest levels in the government of Spain. He is without doubt the most influential and impactful promoter of catalysis research in Spain in the 20th century and the key individual in the formative years of the catalysis community in Spain.
His presence and his sage advice will be missed.
 
Dr. Enrique Sastre
Vice-Director, Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica, CSIC,
Madrid, Spain.

In Memoriam: John T. Yates, Jr. (1935-2015)

John_YatesProfessor John T. Yates, Jr. received his B.S. degree from Juniata College and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from M.I.T. After three years as Assistant Professor at Antioch College, he joined the National Bureau of Standards, first as a NRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow and then as a member of its scientific staff. His research in the fields of surface chemistry and physics, including both the structure and spectroscopy of surface species, the dynamics of surface processes, and the development of new methods for research in surface chemistry, kept him at the forefront of this field of science throughout his long and distinguished career.

Professor Yates joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1982 as the first R.K. Mellon Professor of Chemistry and as Founding Director of the University of Pittsburgh Surface Science Center. He established and led the Surface Science Center and mentored 40 Ph.D students and more than 100 senior researchers at Pittsburgh. He moved to the University of Virginia in 2006 as a Professor and Shannon Research Fellow; there, he established a new research program in Surface Science and became active in the new field of astrochemistry.

Professor Yates served as Associate Editor of Chemical Reviews and of ACS Langmuir and on the Advisory Boards of Chemical & Engineering News and Chemistry World. He was active as a member of the AVS Boards of Directors and Trustees and as Chair of the AVS Surface Science Division, the APS Division of Chemical Physics, and the ACS Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. He chaired three Gordon Research Conferences.

He was the recipient of the AVS Medard Welch Award, the ACS Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry, the ACS Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry, and an Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1996. During his distinguished career, he co-authored more than 700 articles in the leading journals of chemistry and physics.

We mourn his passing as we celebrate his achievements.

In Memoriam: Theodore A. Koch (1925 – 2014)

Theodore KochDr. Theodore A. Koch, 88, a retired DuPont research scientist passed away peacefully at his home in Wilmington, Delaware on September 13, 2014.

A native of upstate New York, Koch studied chemistry at St. Michael’s College in Burlington, VT and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, earning his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1952. He joined the DuPont Co. ultimately retiring from its Nylon business unit as a DuPont Fellow after 48 years of service. An authority on heterogeneous catalysts, Koch spent his entire career developing chemical processes and bringing them from the benchtop to commercialization with marked creativity and tenacity.

Notable technical accomplishments in Koch’s career included developing a new catalyst for nitrous oxide destruction (an ozone-depletion byproduct from Nylon manufacture), development of a new process for hydrogen cyanide manufacture and improvements to many polymer intermediates processes. Koch received the award for Excellence in Catalytic Science and Technology from the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia in 1994 and the Lavoisier Medal for Technical Excellence from the DuPont Co. in 1998. His external roles included adjunct Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware; president of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia; and membership in the North American Catalysis Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Organic Reactions Catalysis Society, and the American Chemical Society. He held 29 patents and co-authored 18 journal articles and one textbook on catalysis entitled, “Catalyst Manufacture.”

Koch is survived by his wife of 62 years, Anne, his five children, five grandchildren and extended family. His memory lives on through the Theodore A. Koch Fund that will recognize and reward Delaware Valley achievements in catalysis research. Charitable donations may be made to the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia, Ted Koch Fund, c/o Stephen Harris, Treasurer, Renmatix, 660 Allendale Road, King of Prussia, PA 19406.