Bruce C. Gates is the 2009 Robert Burwell Lecturer

The North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety is pleased to announce that Pro­fes­sor Bruce Gates is the recip­i­ent of the 2009 Robert Bur­well Lec­ture­ship in Catal­y­sis. Since 1992 Bruce has been on the fac­ul­ty of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis, where he has the title of Dis­tin­guished Pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing. His inter­ests include Catal­y­sis, Cat­alyt­ic Reac­tors, Chem­i­cal Reac­tion Engi­neer­ing, Mate­r­i­al Micro Struc­ture, and Sol-Gel Pro­cess­ing.

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 (until funds run out) 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.

For almost 40 years he has made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions in three areas: the prepa­ra­tion and char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of sur­face organometal­lic com­plex­es, catal­y­sis by strong sol­id acids, and the kinet­ics and reac­tion path­ways of hydropro­cess­ing catal­y­sis. In the catal­y­sis by strong sol­id acids, Bruce both expand­ed the appli­ca­tions and fur­thered under­stand­ing of under­ly­ing mech­a­nisms. More recent­ly, in a series of papers begin­ning in 1998, Bruce (with Bob Gras­sel­li and Hel­mut Knözinger) explained the sur­face chem­istry of tungstat­ed zir­co­nias with and with­out Pt, high­light­ing the role of sur­face reduc­tion to W5+ and –OH in gen­er­at­ing the active sites for alka­ne iso­mer­iza­tion. Bruce’s con­tri­bu­tions to hydropro­cess­ing catal­y­sis are equal­ly notable. His two review arti­cles great­ly assist­ed those requir­ing intro­duc­tion to the field; each has been cit­ed in excess of 375 times. The sci­en­tif­ic con­tri­bu­tion was his recog­ni­tion (with James Katzer and George Schuit) that com­plex hydrodesul­fu­r­iza­tion and hydro­gena­tion net­works could be under­stood in terms of a small num­ber of reac­tions whose rates could be quan­ti­fied using mod­el sub­strates. One sup­port­er remarked that Bruce’s work in met­al clus­ters rev­o­lu­tion­ized the field of sur­face organometal­lic catal­y­sis. Here also he has authored wide­ly read reviews, and sev­er­al influ­en­tial, exten­sive­ly cit­ed papers. Much of this recent work has tar­get­ed catal­y­sis by gold clus­ters or nanocrys­tals, work char­ac­ter­ized by mul­ti-tech­nique cor­re­la­tion of cat­alyt­ic activ­i­ty to sur­face struc­ture, care­ful inter­pre­ta­tion of EXAFS data char­ac­ter­iz­ing sur­face coor­di­na­tion, and prop­er con­sid­er­a­tion of how the catal­y­sis alters the as-syn­the­sized mate­ri­als. Bruce was an ear­ly user and pro­po­nent of EXAFS and XANES in cat­a­lyst char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. Many “nanoscience” papers in the lit­er­a­ture today fol­low along paths he pio­neered years ago.

Final­ly it should be not­ed that Bruce has edu­cat­ed two gen­er­a­tions of cat­alyt­ic sci­en­tists and indus­tri­al prac­ti­tion­ers, through his wide­ly used teach­ing texts (“Chem­istry of Cat­alyt­ic Process­es” is a world­wide best sell­er), the many short cours­es he helped devel­op and teach (the one based on this book was taught for over 30 years at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Delaware, and at many indus­tri­al research cen­ters) and not least through his men­tor­ing of over 130 grad­u­ate stu­dents, post­docs and vis­it­ing sci­en­tists. Bruce has been a tire­less cheer­leader for the field of catal­y­sis and in all his lec­tures strives for under­stand­ing, arous­ing curios­i­ty, and get­ting down to the essen­tials of a prob­lem. He has also been a very active mem­ber of the Board of the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety.

Local clubs should con­tact Pro­fes­sor Gates [] 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: