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 [firstname.lastname@example.org] 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