In Memoriam: Michel Che (1941 ‑2019)

The pre­mier award of the Roy­al Soci­ety of Chem­istry, the Fara­day Medal and Lec­ture­ship, insti­tut­ed in 1869, is award­ed bien­ni­al­ly, and the first recip­i­ent was the emi­nent French chemist, Jean-Bap­tiste Dumas (1800–1884), who was a pro­fes­sor at the École Poly­tech­nique, Paris, before becom­ing that country’s Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Com­merce and lat­er Mas­ter of the French Mint. In the inter­ven­ing years oth­er notable recip­i­ents include Mendeleev, Niels Bohr, Lords Rayleigh and Ruther­ford, Her­mann von Helmholtz, Sir Cyril Hin­shel­wood and Sir Robert Robin­son. The sec­ond French­man to earn this acco­lade (in 2014) was Michel Che, Pro­fes­sor and Direc­tor of the Lab­o­ra­toire de Réac­tiv­ité de Sur­face at the Sor­bonne Uni­ver­sité-CNRS, Paris.

His research cov­ered the reac­tiv­i­ty of sol­id sur­faces inves­ti­gat­ed from a mol­e­c­u­lar stand­point based on the com­bined use of tran­si­tion met­al com­plex­es, spe­cif­ic iso­topes and phys­i­cal tech­niques, notably elec­tron spin res­o­nance. His work, which led to more than 450 pub­li­ca­tions, a two-vol­ume book (Char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of Sol­id Mate­ri­als and Het­ero­ge­neous Cat­a­lysts: From Struc­ture to Sur­face Reac­tiv­i­ty, 2012, Wiley) and 5 patents, has con­tributed to improve our under­stand­ing of the ele­men­tary steps that occur at the sol­id-liq­uid (gas) inter­faces and to bridge the gap between homo­ge­neous and het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­ses.

Michel Che was born in Lyon in Decem­ber 1941. After a chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing degree award­ed by the École Supérieure de Chimie Indus­trielle de Lyon (ESCIL, now CPE­Ly­on), he joined the Insti­tut de Recherch­es sur la Catal­yse, CNRS lab­o­ra­to­ry in Villeur­banne (sub­urb of Lyon), where he received his doc­tor­ate for his work on tita­nia (TiO2).

He then worked with the flam­boy­ant Russ­ian-Amer­i­can col­loid chemist, John Tarke­vich at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty (1969–71). He also worked at the UK Atom­ic Ener­gy Research Estab­lish­ment (1972–1982) before return­ing to Lyon, and lat­er to Paris, where he became a Pro­fes­sor (1975).

Michel Che was Pres­i­dent of the Catal­y­sis Divi­sion of the Société Chim­ique de France and Vice-Pres­i­dent of this soci­ety (2007–2009). He was Pres­i­dent and founder of the high­ly suc­cess­ful Euro­pean Fed­er­a­tion of Catal­y­sis Soci­eties (EFCATS) 1993–1995, cre­at­ing the bien­ni­al EuropaCat con­gress­es, lat­er he became Pres­i­dent of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Catal­y­sis Soci­eties (IACS) 2000–2004. He received many nation­al awards in France, includ­ing the prix-fran­co-chi­nois de la SCF-Chi­nese Chem­i­cal Soci­ety (2018); in Italy (lau­réat du prix de la Soci­età Chim­i­ca Ital­iana (SCI) 2017; in Nether­lands (J. H. Van’t Hoff); in Poland (Sklodows­ka-Curie and P. Curie lec­ture­ships); in Ger­many (Von-Hum­bold-Gay Lus­sac award, GDCh-Wit­tig lec­ture­ships); in Japan (Japan­ese Soci­ety for the Pro­mo­tion of Sci­ence lec­ture­ship); in Chi­na (Gold Medal of the Chi­nese Acad­e­my of Sci­ence, Friend­ship award and Inter­na­tion­al Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Coop­er­a­tion Award, 2008); and Europe (François Gault EFCATS lec­ture­ship). His works earned him sev­er­al hon­orary doc­tor­ates and fel­low­ships (Ger­many Acad­e­my of Sci­ence Leopold­ina; Acad­e­mia Europaea; Hun­gar­i­an Acad­e­my of Sci­ences; Pol­ish Acad­e­my of Art and Sci­ences; Hon­orary Pro­fes­sor of Fuzhou Uni­ver­si­ty 2018).

Proud of his Chi­nese ori­gins – his father emi­grat­ed to France as a young engi­neer – Michel Che was excep­tion­al­ly pop­u­lar in the P. R. of Chi­na, and was one of the first Euro­pean sci­en­tists to be invit­ed there in 1977. He was Chair­man of the Aca­d­e­m­ic Com­mit­tee of the State Key Lab­o­ra­to­ry of Catal­y­sis in Dalian (the first state key lab­o­ra­to­ry in the catal­y­sis field in Chi­na) dur­ing 2006–2014. As a Chair­man of that com­mit­tee, he facil­i­tat­ed the progress of many young Chi­nese to pro­mote inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tions. For his great con­tri­bu­tions to the sci­en­tif­ic devel­op­ment of Chi­na, par­tic­u­lar­ly that between France and Chi­na, he was award­ed the Inter­na­tion­al Coop­er­a­tion Award of Chi­na pre­sent­ed at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple by the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic, the high­est hon­our for for­eign sci­en­tists.

Michel Che was a mem­ber of the Sci­en­tif­ic Com­mit­tee of the Insti­tut Français du Pét­role (IFP, now IFPEN) for more than 30 years. He was a mem­ber for many years of a selec­tion com­mit­tee for new­ly recruitable sci­en­tists at Osa­ka Pre­fec­ture Uni­ver­si­ty in Japan, where he was also a Vis­it­ing Pro­fes­sor.

His links with the UK were par­tic­u­lar­ly strong. As well as serv­ing, for many years, as Chair­man of the Exter­nal Advi­so­ry Board of the Cardiff Catal­y­sis Cen­tre, he was par­tic­u­lar­ly fond of vis­it­ing the Davy Fara­day Research Lab­o­ra­to­ry of the Roy­al Insti­tu­tion of Great Britain, Lon­don, where he pre­sent­ed many sem­i­nars and inter­act­ed with its Direc­tor.

Michel Che was a charm­ing, high­ly cul­tured and com­pas­sion­ate human being, admired and loved by an enor­mous fam­i­ly of world-renowned fel­low sci­en­tists. Dis­cus­sions with him remind­ed one of how a first-rate sci­en­tist should behave – with great human decen­cy towards oth­ers, friends and strangers alike. He was proud of the phe­nom­e­nal con­tri­bu­tions made by French sci­en­tists (espe­cial­ly Sabati­er) to mod­ern sci­ence, and he also rejoiced in the antiq­ui­ty of Chi­na and the exper­tise of Chi­nese philoso­phers through­out the ages. He lived an extra­or­di­nary active life. Among the thou­sands of sci­en­tists he encoun­tered through­out the world, he nev­er made an ene­my – only friends, who rejoiced being in his com­pa­ny. He died, of pan­cre­at­ic can­cer, in a Paris hos­pi­tal after a short ill­ness on 7 August 2019.
 
Michel Che
Born Lyon, 29 Decem­ber 1941
Mar­ried Danielle (née Rey­naud) at the City Hall on 7 July 1964 (offi­cial) and in the Church on 8 July 1964 (reli­gious).
Four Chil­dren: Patrick, Brigitte, Cather­ine, Didi­er
Died Paris, 7 August 2019
 
(Pre­pared by John Meurig Thomas FRS FREng FRSE)

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.
Con­tin­ue read­ing

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.