Announcement of 2023–2024 Paul H. Emmett Award Winners

I am pleased to announce the win­ners of the 2023–2024 Paul H. Emmett Award in Fun­da­men­tal Catal­y­sis. This award rec­og­nizes and encour­ages indi­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions in the field of catal­y­sis with empha­sis on dis­cov­ery and under­stand­ing of cat­alyt­ic phe­nom­e­na, pro­pos­al of cat­alyt­ic reac­tion mech­a­nisms and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of and descrip­tion of cat­alyt­ic sites and species. The award win­ner must not have turned 46 on April 1st of the award year. The award is spon­sored by WR Grace & Co and man­aged by the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety. The award con­sists of a plaque and an hon­o­rar­i­um of $5,000. The plaque will be pre­sent­ed dur­ing the clos­ing ban­quet cer­e­monies at the 2023 North Amer­i­can Meet­ing of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (NAM28), sched­uled to be held on June 18–23, 2023, in Prov­i­dence. The awardees will also present a Ple­nary Lec­ture at the NAM meet­ing.

The NACS Board has recent­ly approved to hon­or up to two Emmett awardees every two years. The two awardees for the 2023–2024 cycle are (list­ed alpha­bet­i­cal­ly):

2023 Win­ner: Pro­fes­sor Aditya Bhan, Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta
2024 Win­ner: Pro­fes­sor Yuriy Román-Leshkov, Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy

Professor Aditya BhanPro­fes­sor Aditya Bhan and his group are rec­og­nized for bring­ing ana­lyt­i­cal for­malisms and detailed exper­i­men­ta­tion to elic­it kinet­ic and mech­a­nis­tic infor­ma­tion, ver­i­fied against ther­mo­dy­nam­ic mea­sure­ments and stric­tures, into hydro­car­bon reac­tion sys­tems of sig­nif­i­cant com­plex­i­ty and prac­ti­cal util­i­ty. His group has pro­vid­ed crit­i­cal insight into how and why cat­alyt­ic process­es occur, both as they form desired prod­ucts and as they lead to uns­e­lec­tive or deac­ti­vat­ing side paths for a num­ber of impor­tant indus­tri­al cat­alyt­ic process­es includ­ing methanol-to-hydro­car­bons catal­y­sis, non-oxida­tive and oxida­tive alka­ne con­ver­sion, par­tial oxi­da­tion of olefins, hydrodeoxy­gena­tion, and dehy­dra­tion. These stud­ies have brought con­cepts of chem­i­cal kinet­ics and ther­mo­dy­nam­ics to derive fun­da­men­tal insights into catal­y­sis on zeo­lites, car­bides, oxides, met­als, and MOFs. His group has brought new con­cepts and def­i­n­i­tions to the kinet­ic analy­sis of het­ero­ge­neous cat­alyt­ic sys­tems in devel­op­ing a kinet­ic descrip­tion of site ensem­bles on cat­alyt­ic sur­faces, in demon­strat­ing rate func­tions of an over­all reac­tion with many ele­men­tary steps can be writ­ten in a form anal­o­gous to the micro­scop­ic law of mass action, and in devel­op­ing math­e­mat­i­cal mod­els describ­ing rates and reversibil­i­ty in com­plex reac­tion net­works.

Professor Yuriy Román-LeshkovPro­fes­sor Yuriy Román-Leshkov and his group com­bines cat­a­lyst syn­the­sis, kinet­ic stud­ies, and reac­tor design to study chem­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions relat­ed to the sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion of fuels and chem­i­cals. A dis­tinc­tive focus has been the design of reac­tive envi­ron­ments in sol­id cat­a­lysts to improve activ­i­ty and selec­tiv­i­ty by using elec­tric fields, con­fine­ment, and site coop­er­a­tiv­i­ty as means to con­trol reac­tion rates. His work on Lewis acid zeo­lites has improved our under­stand­ing of how the met­al cen­ter, intra­pore con­fine­ment of reactants/solvents, and frame­work polar­i­ty influ­ence rates for the con­ver­sion of bio-derived oxy­genates in the liq­uid phase. This includes trans­fer hydro­gena­tions, iso­mer­iza­tion-lac­toniza­tion sequences, and C‑C cou­pling reac­tions of car­bo­hy­drates, furan-deriv­a­tives, and keto-acids, to pro­duce a wide range of val­ue-added chem­i­cals. Yuriy has made impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to the areas of sus­tain­able avi­a­tion fuels and plas­tic waste decon­struc­tion through his work on selec­tive hydrodeoxy­gena­tion of lignin into aro­mat­ics and hydrogenol­y­sis of poly­olefinic plas­tic waste with earth-abun­dant cat­a­lysts. Last­ly, his col­lab­o­ra­tive efforts to bridge con­cepts in ther­mo- and elec­tro­catal­y­sis have result­ed in foun­da­tion­al insights into how inter­fa­cial elec­tric fields influ­ence ther­mo­chem­i­cal reac­tion rates even for sys­tems dis­con­nect­ed from exter­nal wiring.
Con­grat­u­la­tions to Pro­fes­sor Bhan and Pro­fes­sor Román-Leshkov!
Jing­guang Chen
Pres­i­dent, North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety