Jeff was born on October 23, 1962 to Irwin and Leila Beck in Brooklyn, New York. He was a vibrant ball of fire with the dedication and intellect to make an ever lasting impact in our society. He earned his doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989, true to his high school prediction. Jeff was a creative and prolific inventor, an inspirational leader, a devoted husband and friend, and a renowned scientist and engineer in his field. The loves of his life were his wife Lisa and sister Shari, game-changing innovation, art collection, and his dogs Pharaoh and Monty.
Jeff’s professional career began at Mobil’s Central Research Laboratory, immediately following his Ph. D. Throughout his career, Jeff made outstanding contributions to the discovery and commercialization of novel catalysts and processes for the production of key petrochemicals and clean fuels. His colleagues describe Jeff as an inspirational visionary who had the uncanny ability to see where the puck was going to be. His groundbreaking research on “liquid-crystal templating” led to the discovery of an entirely new class of tunable mesoporous materials, M41S, with pore sizes in the range of 16 to 100 Å. This discovery is recognized as a major innovation in the scientific community and has spawned a new field of materials chemistry. Technologies based on Jeff’s innovative and practical inventions also revolutionized the production of key petrochemicals, including para-xylene (used in the production of polyester fiber and PET plastics), via advanced catalysts and processes. Jeff was recognized for his excellence in catalysis and materials with numerous national and international awards, including the National Academy of Engineering (one of the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer), the North American Catalysis Society’s Houdry Award (accorded to the most significant contributor to industrial catalysis), the American Chemical Society’s Heroes of Chemistry Award, and the International Zeolite Association’s Breck Award (accorded to the most significant advance in the field of micro-and meso-porous materials). He was author of nearly 75 US patents, published prolifically, and frequently delivered invited lectures at acclaimed universities and conferences worldwide. Jeff left an indelible mark not only in research, where he led ExxonMobil’s prestigious Corporate Strategic Research, but also in several assignments in the business, including Technical Manager at the Baytown Refinery, and Polyethylene Global Marketing Manager.
Though taken from this world quite too soon, Jeff’s loved ones can find comfort in knowing that he lived his life fully and the way he wanted. He demanded excellence, did not sit still for mediocrity, and inspired all who were fortunate enough to come to know him. Jeff found his happiest moments spending time with his beloved wife Lisa, and his dogs Pharaoh and Monty. His family, friends, and colleagues will remember him as a remarkable individual. He has taken in his early journey a part of each of us. We feel blessed to have had him with us. Jeff is survived by his wife Lisa, parents Irwin and Leila, sister Shari, and brother Richard.
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In lieu of flowers, Lisa has requested that donations be made to Best Friends Animal Society, www.bestfriends.org, or any other animal rescue organization.