Israel E. Wachs named 5th Vanadis Award winner

Israel E. Wachs, Pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at Lehigh Uni­ver­si­ty, has been named the recip­i­ent of the 5th Vanadis Award. The award was pre­sent­ed fol­low­ing the award lec­ture by Dr. Wachs at the 8th Inter­na­tion­al Vana­di­um Sym­po­sium (V8) held August 15–18, 2012 in Crys­tal City, VA. This bian­nu­al award goes to a researcher hav­ing con­tributed to the chemistry/biological chemistry/toxicology of vana­di­um. Dr. Wachs was select­ed for his well­sto­ried con­tri­bu­tions to vana­di­um sci­ence and con­tri­bu­tions to the area of met­al-oxide-based catal­y­ses.

Dr. Wachs received his under­grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion at The City Col­lege of the City Uni­ver­si­ty of New York (B.E.-ChE) and con­tin­ued his grad­u­ate (PhD-ChE) edu­ca­tion at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty under the men­tor­ship of Pro­fes­sor Robert J. Madix, in the area of sur­face sci­ence. His research find­ings are con­sid­ered the first appli­ca­tion of sur­face sci­ence to het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis. After grad­u­a­tion, he joined the Exxon Research & Engi­neer­ing Com­pa­ny Cor­po­rate Research Labs where he was involved in devel­op­ment of many dif­fer­ent cat­alyt­ic tech­nolo­gies (selec­tive oxi­da­tion, acid catal­y­sis, syn­thet­ic fuel syn­the­sis, hydrodesul­fu­r­iza­tion (HDS) and hydro­car­bon con­ver­sion). One of his inven­tions, i.e., the selec­tive oxi­da­tion of o‑xylene to phthal­ic anhy­dride by vana­di­um oxide/titanium cat­a­lyst sup­ports, is still the lead­ing indus­tri­al cat­a­lyst for this tech­nol­o­gy. Dr. Wachs sub­se­quent­ly joined the fac­ul­ty of the Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing Depart­ment at Lehigh Uni­ver­si­ty. There, he estab­lished a world-class catal­y­sis research lab­o­ra­to­ry focus­ing on oxide cat­alyt­ic mate­ri­als and their char­ac­ter­i­za­tion under reac­tion con­di­tions (in situ and operan­do spec­troscopy). These fun­da­men­tal stud­ies estab­lished a foun­da­tion for molecular/electronic struc­ture – activity/selectivity rela­tion­ships and the mol­e­c­u­lar engi­neer­ing of nov­el oxide cat­a­lysts. One of the emphases of Dr. Wachs’ research has been on the fun­da­men­tals and applied aspects of sup­port­ed vana­di­um oxide het­ero­ge­neous cat­a­lysts for envi­ron­men­tal appli­ca­tions (for reduc­tion of acid gas emis­sions from pow­er plants and paper mills). More recent­ly, he has extend­ed his research on vana­di­um oxide catal­y­sis to aque­ous enzyme mim­ics. Dr. Wachs’ sci­en­tif­ic research accom­plish­ments are inter­na­tion­al­ly known and have received recog­ni­tion by EPA, ACS, AIChE, the Hum­boldt Foun­da­tion, and now, the Inter­na­tion­al Vana­di­um Sym­po­sium.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, the Vanadis Award has been pre­sent­ed on the basis of doc­u­ment­ed con­tri­bu­tions of a sci­en­tist to the area(s) or com­bi­na­tions of vana­di­um chem­istry, bio­chem­istry, biol­o­gy, or phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sci­ences. The award is specif­i­cal­ly giv­en to an indi­vid­ual who has con­tributed inno­v­a­tive research and had a impact on direc­tion of their field(s) — in terms of devel­op­ment of new appli­ca­tions and last­ing impact as tes­ti­fied by the ser­vice of the nom­i­nee to the over­all progress, appli­ca­tion, and explo­ration of new uses of vana­di­um in sci­ence. Can­di­dates for the Vanadis Award can be nom­i­nat­ed by any mem­ber of the vana­di­um com­mu­ni­ty; the awardee is select­ed by an inter­na­tion­al com­mit­tee of experts in the sci­ence of vana­di­um. Pre­vi­ous win­ners of the Vanadis Award have been Deb­bie C. Crans (2004), Dieter Rehder (2006), Toshikazu Hirao (2008), and Vin­cent L. Pec­o­raro (2010).

If you would like more infor­ma­tion about this award, the 2012 award selec­tion or the Inter­na­tion­al Vana­di­um Sym­po­sium, please con­tact Deb­bie Crans at 970–491-7635 or Craig McLauch­lan at 309–438-7019.