Jim Dumesic is the 2007 Robert Burwell Lecturer

The North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety is pleased to announce that Pro­fes­sor James A. Dumesic is the recip­i­ent of the 2007 Robert Bur­well Lec­ture­ship in Catal­y­sis. Jim is the Steen­bock Pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal and Bio­log­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin, in Madi­son, Wis­con­sin. This award is spon­sored by John­son Matthey Cat­a­lysts Com­pa­ny and admin­is­tered by the Soci­ety. The award con­sists of a plaque and an hon­o­rar­i­um as well as a trav­el award to pro­vide the recip­i­ent with funds for vis­it­ing any of the 14 local clubs com­pris­ing the Soci­ety. The award is giv­en in recog­ni­tion of sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tions to one or more areas in the field of catal­y­sis with empha­sis on dis­cov­ery and under­stand­ing of cat­alyt­ic phe­nom­e­na, cat­alyt­ic reac­tion mech­a­nisms and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and descrip­tion of cat­alyt­ic sites and species.

Bob Bur­well was a cat­alyt­ic explor­er who used a com­bi­na­tion of chem­i­cal knowl­edge and insa­tiable curios­i­ty to dra­mat­i­cal­ly expand the under­stand­ing of catal­y­sis. It is a hard act to emu­late, but Jim Dumesic’s excel­lence, lead­er­ship, and suc­ces­sion of impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis make him an ide­al recip­i­ent for this pres­ti­gious award. He set the bar high in his grad­u­ate work extend­ing the use of Möss­bauer spec­troscopy to relate mag­net­ic prop­er­ties of small par­ti­cles to their struc­ture and using that and oth­er sur­face-spe­cif­ic mea­sure­ments to explain the struc­ture sen­si­tiv­i­ty of iron ammo­nia syn­the­sis cat­a­lysts. Ear­ly in his career at Wis­con­sin he con­tin­ued to com­bine spec­tro­scop­ic and adsorp­tion meth­ods to a widen­ing vari­ety of prob­lems, adding IR to the spec­tro­scop­ic analy­sis and pio­neer­ing the use of calorime­try to gain new infor­ma­tion on the ener­get­ics of adsorp­tion and the ener­getic het­ero­gene­ity of sur­face sites. His devel­op­ment of micro­ki­net­ic analy­sis in the ear­ly 90’s set a new stan­dard for the mod­el­ing of the kinet­ic behav­ior of cat­alyt­ic sys­tems, com­bin­ing knowl­edge of gas/solid behav­ior over a wide range of con­di­tions and extend­ing that knowl­edge with quan­tum com­pu­ta­tions to pro­duce self con­sis­tent, robust quan­ti­ta­tive pre­dic­tions of per­for­mance. One of many exam­ples of the pow­er of the method is his ele­gant dis­sec­tion of the kinet­ics of cat­alyt­ic crack­ing. This superb body of work helped to earn him the Col­burn and Wil­helm Awards of AIChE, the Emmett Award, and Elec­tion to the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Engi­neer­ing in 1998. Remark­ably, over the past five years he rev­o­lu­tion­ized the field of catal­y­sis yet again by open­ing new direc­tions for the gen­er­a­tion of chem­i­cals and fuels from bio­mass. He is quot­ed at the end of a fea­ture Sci­ence arti­cle on his bio­mass work as say­ing “…no mat­ter how tech­nolo­gies for bio­fu­els and biore­fin­ing evolve, catal­y­sis is sure to be an impor­tant part of the mix”. The pic­ture of Jim’s con­tri­bu­tions to catal­y­sis would not be com­plete with­out men­tion of his ser­vice to the catal­y­sis com­mu­ni­ty and his teach­ing. He was the Edi­tor of the Jour­nal of Mol­e­c­u­lar Catal­y­sis and until recent­ly Asso­ciate Edi­tor of the Jour­nal of Catal­y­sis. His teach­ing con­tri­bu­tions were rec­og­nized by the Poly­gon Award and the Ben­jamin Smith Reynolds Award of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin. His lec­tures in tech­ni­cal meet­ings are known for the clar­i­ty and the amus­ing vignettes he always adds. He has over 300 pub­li­ca­tions in col­lab­o­ra­tion with more than 40 PhD stu­dents who occu­py promi­nent posi­tions in acad­e­mia and indus­try.

Local clubs should con­tact Pro­fes­sor Dumesic [dumesic@engr.wisc.edu] direct­ly about speak­ing engage­ments over the next two years. More infor­ma­tion on this award, the awards process, and pre­vi­ous awardees can be found inside the Awards fold­er on the NACS home page: www.nacatsoc.org