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: