In Memoriam: Jeffrey S. Beck (1962–2012)

Jef­frey Scott Beck

Jef­frey Scott Beck, Ph.D, passed away on April 7, 2012, with his wife, his sis­ter, his moth­er-in-law and close friends at his side. He was 49. It is with great sor­row that we mourn his unex­pect­ed and quite too ear­ly depar­ture.

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.

Please share sym­pa­thies, mem­o­ries, and con­do­lences online at
In lieu of flow­ers, Lisa has request­ed that dona­tions be made to Best Friends Ani­mal Soci­ety,, or any oth­er ani­mal res­cue orga­ni­za­tion.