Obituaries - IACS - The International Association of Catalysis Societies

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In Memoriam
Professor Jose Luis García Fierro (1948 –2020)
On 3 February, Professor Jose Luis Garcia Fierro died in Madrid, Spain, at the age of 71. Professor Fierro studied Chemistry at the University of Oviedo (Spain) where in 1973 he graduated with honours. In 1976, he received his PhD Degree in Chemistry from the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain). As post-doctoral researcher, he expanded his scientific experience working in prestigious laboratories of University Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France), University College of Cork (Ireland) and Université Catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium). Since 1974 and untill end of his life, he worked at the Spanish National Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) where he developed his passion for scientific research.
Professor Fierro was an internationally recognized scientist in diverse areas of heterogeneous catalysis and solid state chemistry applied to: natural gas conversion, selective oxidations of paraffins and olefins, synfuels, environmental catalysis, catalytic combustion, surface chemistry, heteroatom removal and dearomatization of petroleum feedstocks, fuel cells and hydrogen production. He was a reference in the application of XPS technique for the characterisation of catalytic surfaces and pioneered in Spain the developments of catalytic technologies in C1 chemistry, the set of reactions around methane that allow the synthesis from natural gas of a variety of chemicals and fuels. He was the promoter and leader of the Sustainable Chemistry and Energy Group at the Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry (CSIC) which has become an important Spanish research group of renowned international prestige in the areas of heterogeneous catalysis and chemistry of materials and where a large number of national and foreign students have carried out their doctoral work. His broad research, both fundamental and applied, are compiled in more than 1200 papers in renowned specialist journals devoted to heterogeneous catalysis, chemical engineering, materials science and surface chemistry. He has edited a total of 10 books (editor and/or co-author), holds 37 patents, and was plenary speaker at many congresses, seminars and scientific events held in national and international Universities, research centres and companies all around the world. His work was recognised with several acknowledgements: Award on Hydrogen production from Renewable Energies (2004), Senior Research Award of the Iberoamerican Federation of Catalysis Societies (FISOCAT)( 2008), Medal of the King Saud University, Saudi Arabia (2008), Senior Research Award “Miguel Catalan”, Madrid (2008) and Honoris Causa Doctorates from the University of Patras, Greece (2009), the University of Concepción, Chile (2014), and the San Marcos University, Peru (2017).
During his scientific career, Professor Fierro oversaw and inspired more than 100 doctorate, graduate students and postdocs all around the world (USA, Saudi Arabia and especially Latin American countries such as Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Colombia, with which he always kept a special connection). Among his former students and post-doc researchers, there are many scientists who today occupy key positions in national and international universities, industries and different organisations. All of them will remember his brilliant scientific capacity, his meticulousness and patience in the laboratory and his willingness to help. In addition to his scientific accomplishments, Professor Fierro was known for his ability to build and manage successful work teams and create a family environment among researchers. He was a wonderful colleague and friend and one of those rare beings, an exceptionally effective and dedicated scientist, a good and cheerful person and always with time to listen and help others. His human quality was exceptional, valuing everyone's work, from the most important to the least, which made him win the respect for all of us who were lucky enough know and meet him.
May he rest in peace!
His disciples and friends
Prof. Alberto Marinas
Prof. Agustín Martínez

Michel Che 1941-2019
Michel was born in Lyon in December 1941. After obtaining a degree in Chemical Engineering in Lyon, he joined the « Institut de Recherches sur la Catalyse », CNRS Laboratory (IRC) in Lyon. He was awarded his PhD in 1968 by the University of Lyon and subsequently was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University (1969–1971) working with Prof J. Turkevich. In 1975, he moved from the IRC to assume the role of professor at Université P. & M. Curie-Paris-6, where he became director of the « Laboratoire de Réactivité de Surface » and in 1995 he became senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France.
Michel Che was very active in serving the catalysis and wider scientific community. He was President of the « Catalysis Division » of the « Société Chimique de France » and from 2007-2009 he was  Vice-President of « Société Chimique de France» . From 1993 – 1995, he was the President-Founder of EFCATS (the European Federation of Catalysis Societies) being instrumental in initiating the biennial EuropaCat congresses. He was also President of IACS (the International Association of Catalysis Societies) between the years 2000-2004.
He was the recipient of numerous international awards, most notably from China, France, Italy, Germany, Japan The Netherlands, Poland, the UK, the USA and he was a pro-active member of many scientific committees, and in particular in those in China, France, Japan and UK.
He pioneered a molecular approach to catalyst design by bridging the gap between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis through the new field of interfacial coordination chemistry based on the combined use of transition metal complexes, specific isotopes and physical techniques. He made a major contribution to the improved understanding of the elementary step occurring at the solid-liquid (gas) interface.
He had especially close ties with China where his father had been born  before emigrating to France (Lyon).  Indeed,  Michel was one of the first foreign scientists who visited China as early as 1977, when China opened up once again to the world. Due to his great contributions to the scientific development of China, and in particular international cooperation between France and China, he was awarded the International Cooperation Award of China which was presented to him by the Chinese  President and which is the highest Chinese honor for foreign scientists.
In addition to his significant scientific contributions, Michel was greatly appreciated by all for his human qualities. All his students recognised him as an outstanding mentor.
As a chairman of many committees, he used his influence to great effect including by defining research strategies,  by promoting international collaborations and by fostering and educating generations of young scientists to become active and leading scientists across the globe. As Sir John Meurig Thomas wrote to me «he was a noble human being and a so fine scientist».  
We shall always remember Michel’s contribution to catalysis and his friendship with great affection. His spririt and soul will remain in our hearts for ever.
Jacques Vedrine.

Dangsheng Su 1961–2019
Professor Dang Sheng Su passed away on June 22, 2019 at the age of only 58 years with a great loss for all the communities of catalysis, carbon materials and electron microscopy. He pioneered the study of metal-free nanocarbon as high-performance catalysts and electrocatalysts, providing great advances in understanding the reaction mechanism and the nature of the active sites. He also largely contributed to the advances in characterization of nanomaterials by electron microscopy methods.
He was born on July 1st, 1961, first obtaining the Bachelor and Master degree in physic at the Jilin University (China), then moving to the Technical University of Vienna (Austria) where obtained his PhD in 1991. He then joined the Fritz Haber Institute (FHI) of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, Germany, as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Electron Microscopy. After a short stay at the Hahn Meitner Institute GmbH and the Humboldt University (Berlin, Germany), he re-joined the FHI in 1999, where he investigated nanomaterials in heterogeneous catalysis and energy storage until 2011, working in close collaboration with Robert Schlögl and becoming Head of the laboratory of electron microscopy. He then transferred back to PR China taking a position of Professor and Head of the Catalysis and Materials Division of the Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science - SYNL (at Institute of Metal Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences). Finally, he transferred about two years ago to the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics- DICP (Chinese Academy of Sciences) becoming Professor in Physical Chemistry.  
Prof. Su carried out seminal work in catalysis by metal-free nanocarbons and in the characterization of nanocatalysts by electron microscopy. He developed highly active metal-free nanocarbons for dehydrogenation and oxidative dehydrogenation of hydrocarbon, then extending research interest to the use of these novel catalysts to liquid phase reactions, energy storage materials (supercapacitors and batteries) and more recently to electrocatalysis, from oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) to the conversion of CO2 and synthesis of ammonia from N2. He developed new tools to understand the reaction mechanism in these reactions putting on scientific bases the understanding of the crucial effect of doping and control of defects in these materials. One of his last contributions (very recently published) is titled “Surface chemistry of nanocarbon: Characterization strategies from the viewpoint of catalysis and energy conversion” and well summarises his approach which combine rigorous fundamental understanding to industrial practice. It also remarks that notwithstanding the health issues, he continued to work up to the last day publishing about 20 papers of high profile in the first half of 2019, among the over 600 he published in his scientific life obtaining a high number of citations.  
He published many relevant reviews, among other, on ACS Catalysis, Chemical Reviews (2), Chemical Society Reviews (2), Accounts of Chemical Research, Angewandte Chemie (2) and ChemSusChem (6). He started important conference series, such as Carbocat, and was member of the editorial boards or associated editors of many journals, from ChemSusChem and ChemCatChem to Journal of Energy Chemistry and Chinese Journal of Catalysis.
Professor Su was a teacher and mentor for many young scientists at FHI, SYNL and DICP and in the catalysis community at-large. He will be remembered as gentle and inspiring scholar willing to share his vision, wisdom and knowledge.
Gabriele Centi

Carlo Lamberti 1965-2019
Prof. Lamberti was a brilliant scientist and an enthusiastic teacher. His expertise ranged from Quantum Physics to Material Science, Chemistry and Catalysis, and he was always eager to infuse students and younger collaborators with his scientific passion and endless curiosity, especially in the field he helped advance most: the operando studies applied, inter alia, to solid catalysts. He was at his best at synchrotron sources and neutron beams, where he performed tirelessly hundreds of experiments (days and nights!) with X-ray and neutron sources at ADONE, LURE DCI and SuperACO, ESRF, MAX, NSLS, Elettra, SRS, SLS, APS, SOLEIL, ISIS, SOLEIL, ILL, SINQ, FRM-II. He led two long-term projects at the ESRF and one at Elettra.
His outstanding scientific contributions have substantially advanced the physical understanding underpinning the performances of catalytic materials. A physicist by training (he obtained his Ph.D. in solid state physics in 1993 at the University of Torino, Italy), Carlo was able to engage with both physicists and chemists, and to communicate effectively across these two disciplines, to mutually advance in situ and operando methods, as well as their application to the study of catalytic materials (such as zeolites and other porous materials, as well as supported transition metals and metal nanoparticles). His development of new methods of characterization of metal organic frameworks by combined techniques is universally recognized as pioneering, paving the way for new researchers to follow his footsteps.
Among his 400+ published papers (cited by colleagues worldwide over 25,500 times to date, with a staggering h-factor of 89), a seminal contribution, “Reactivity of Surface Species in Heterogeneous Catalysts Probed by In Situ X-ray Absorption Techniques “ by Silvia Bordiga, Elena Groppo, Giovanni Agostini, Jeroen A. van Bokhoven, and Carlo Lamberti*, Chemical Reviews, 113, 1736-1850 (2013), showcases part of the craftsmanship and broad scientific interest Carlo possessed.
Carlo was both an outstanding scholar and a charismatic teacher. He was a professor in Physical Chemistry at the University of Torino. He was the promotor and the Italian coordinator of the European Master Program “Materials science: exploring large scale facilities” (MaMaSELF). He also was the scientific director of the “Smart Materials Research Center” at the Southern Federal University of Rostov-on-Don (Russian Federation). His students fondly remember his ability to clearly explain difficult concepts with simplicity and enthusiasm, a characteristic of a great teacher. The room sparked with energy that he exuded every time he came to a microphone (he had questions for every speaker at every session in one of the many languages he mastered), making the sessions he attended unforgettable, and ever more interesting, regardless of the topic. He was a patient and caring educator, explaining difficult subjects of X-ray spectroscopy to beginners in short courses he liked to teach, by engaging the audience – always with a lot of creativity and good humor (in the picture Carlo explaining coordination numbers). One further example of the priceless memories about his unique way of lecturing: during a class he taught about synchrotron experiments, he made students stand up, move and behave like different nuclei. You had to see the incredulous yet captivated audience!
Carlo has clearly made a huge impact on the catalysis community leaving a great legacy in the use of in situ and operando techniques and in the comprehension of catalysis in general. He will be tremendously missed as a great colleague as well. However, he will be missed not only as the eminent scientist, but mostly as the charming, gentle, larger-than-life person he was. Many in the community mourn the passing of a true friend, to whom he often repeated: “Enjoy life, in all its aspects!”. His personality, his enthusiasm, his way of teaching and his research have left a permanent legacy in many memories.

Robert Karl Grasselli 1931-2018
Professor Robert Karl Grasselli passed away in Munich on 11 January 2018; he was 87 years old.
Robert Grasselli obtained his bachelor degree from Harvard in 1952, after wining a scholarship from the Technical University in Graz, Austria. He obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Case-Western Reserve University, Cleveland, from where he proceeded to Sohio as a research scientist.  After leaving Sohio he worked at the US Office of Naval Research, Washington, where he was Director of Chemical Research, and then at Mobil Corporation. From 1996 to 2006 he was Guest Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Munich and, simultaneously, Adjunct Full Professor in Chemical Engineering at the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology in the University of Delaware at Newark.  Later he became Distinguished Affiliated Professor at the Technical University of Munich (2006-2018).
Dr. Robert A. Grasselli was a highly accomplished and innovative industrial chemist, renowned  for his seminal contributions to the design, development, and commercial exploitation of novel solid catalysis. Inventor in 160 U.S. patents, he was instrumental in developing a fundamentally new method of producing the polymer precursor, acrylonitrile. The key innovation in this one-step process was the use microcrystalline bismuth molybdate; the process was so effective that, after its adoption worldwide, a 50-fold increase of acrylonitrile production was achieved.
Dr. Robert Grasselli was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering (1995); inducted into the US National Hall of Fame for Engineering, Science and Technology (1988); was a recipient of the American Chemical Society E. N. Morley Medal (1999); and the E. V. Murphee Award for Industrial and Engineering Chemistry in 1984.  He also shared the Distinguished Award in Oxidation Catalysis from the World Oxidation Catalysis Society in Berlin (2001); and he received a doctorate, honoris causa, from the University of Bologna.  He was awarded the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Prize in1995.
Dr. Grasselli combined the best of the American optimism and ‘can-do’ spirit with the old-world European cultural depth and charm of the continent of his birth. He read extensively; he loved music and was an ardent supporter of the Vienna Phillarmonic.  He had a passion for skiing and for travel to far-away places. He loved gardening, unusual flora, and modern art. For the last twenty years of his life, he and his wife, Dr. Eva-Maria Hauck, spent their time in their two homes, one in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the other in Munich. He will always be remembered for his ethusiam for science that led him throughout his life to bring friends together in discussion.   
Doug Buttrey, William Goddard III, and Raul Lobo

Frank S. Stone 1925 - 2018
Frank Stone’s death on March 5th deprived the scientific community of an elder statesman, famed for studies of catalysis and solid-state chemistry. Born in 1925 in Bristol, England, and educated at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School, Bristol, he excelled in Classics and Sciences, but preferred the latter, studying Chemistry at the University of Bristol; graduating with first class honours in 1945.
He undertook postgraduate research with Professor W. E. Garner, linking the catalytic activities of binary inorganic oxides with their semi-conducting characteristics. Thereafter, he proceeded to post-doctoral studies in photochemistry at Princeton University, USA, with the distinguished physical chemist, Hugh S. Taylor. Returning to Bristol, he investigated heterogeneous catalytic reactions through adsorption calorimetry. The importance of the “electronic factor” to heterogeneous catalysis led Stone to doping binary oxides with the alter-valent ions, and to measuring the magnetic properties of ternary oxides. Enduring associations were established with Italian and Spanish research groups; notably with Alessandro Cimino, a contemporary at Princeton, at the Universities of Perugia and Rome, assessing specific catalytic activities of isolated surface ionic sites; and with co-workers of J. F. Garcia de la Banda (CSIC, Madrid), who worked previously with Garner, to study the cracking of hydrocarbons on transition metal-doped zeolites. Between 1955-65, Frank Stone pioneered research on heterogeneous photocatalysis on finely-divided oxides, solid-state reactions for spinel formation, and adsorption on supported metallic particles.
He became European Editor of the Journal of Catalysis in 1970, a task at which he excelled for 26 years, in which his literary acumen and facility with foreign languages earned him huge respect, especially from non-English-speaking authors, who were grateful to him for his tactful suggestions for improving manuscripts.
In 1972 Frank Stone became Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Bath, where, with Adriano Zecchina and Edoardo Garrone of the University of Turin, he applied UV-Visible Diffuse Reflectance- and Infra-Red Spectroscopies to oxide surfaces of alkaline-earth elements, identifying 3-, 4-, and 5-fold coordinated adsorption sites, and revealing a pink oligomeric form of adsorbed carbon monoxide.  In later years he held the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor. Frank Stone was an outstanding lecturer. He authored more than 120 scientific papers; many have withstood the “wear of time”. He was a founding- committee member of the triennial Rideal Conference Series, and was a regular attendee until 2011/12.
He met his future wife, Joan, also a student, in wartime Bristol. They became volunteer fire-watchers, studying by day and fulfilling their night-time duties from the rooftops of the University buildings. A family man, who enjoyed gardening, cycling, and travel. He took many camping holidays across Europe, a practice continued until late in life and held annual summer camps for his research group in the Welsh Mountains or on Exmoor.  He was a regularly-attending member of the Bristol Scientific Society until shortly before his death.
Roger I. Bickley/ Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK  

Kozo Tanabe 1927-2018
Professor Kozo Tanabe passed away on April 24, 2018 at the age of 91.
Kozo Tanabe was born on May 7, 1926 in Takeda, Oita prefecture, Japan. He studied Chemistry at Hokkaido University and graduated in 1951. He joined the Research Institute of Catalysis, Hokkaido University and received a PhD in 1956. He remained on the faculty of the Research Institute of Catalysis and was promoted to Professor in 1960. In 1965, he moved to the Department of Chemistry at Hokkaido University, where he retired to become Professor Emeritus in 1990.
Professor Tanabe carried out early seminal work in acid-base catalysis by solids and discovered the essential role of acid-base pairs in conferring unique reactivity and selectivity by stabilizing intermediates through concerted interactions. He was a prolific and highly-cited author with more than 300 research publication and 10 books. Among these, the book entitled “Solid Acids and Bases” set the fundamental underpinnings for the interpretation of the reactivity of oxides and mixed oxides in catalytic reactions and for the benefits of an appropriate balance in strength between the acid and base active centers.
His achievements were recognized with many distinctions, among them the several awards from the Chemical Society and the Catalysis Society of Japan and the Japan Institute of Petroleum. He was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon and the Order of the Sacred Treasure. Professor Tanabe served as President of the Catalysis Society of Japan and as Vice president of the Chemical Society of Japan. His profound influence on the field led to the creation of the “Kozo Tanabe Prize for Acid-Base Catalysis” in his honor; this prize is stewarded by the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Acid-Base Catalysis Symposium.
Professor Tanabe was a teacher and mentor for many generations of catalysis scientists at Hokkaido University and in the catalysis community at-large. He is also remembered as a humble and gentle scholar whose vast wisdom and knowledge he was always so willing to share.
Hideshi Hattori, Johannes Lercher, and Enrique Iglesia

Burtron H. “Burt” Davis 1934 -2018
Burtron H. “Burt” Davis passed away on September 28th, 2018.
Burt Davis was an outstanding scientist and intellect holding prolific scholarly track records, and constant source of humorous tales for decades. He had a hobby of collecting research on the greatest scientists of our time, including his mentor Dr. Paul Emmett. He is irreplaceable, and will be missed by many of us. Please keep his family, friends, and colleagues in your thoughts.
Burt Davis, an investigator, Associate Director and Interim Director of Center for Applied Energy Research, University of Kentucky, enjoyed a highly successful career of research and scholarship, being widely recognized as the ultimate authority on Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. He held numerous offices and memberships in several professional societies, including the American Chemical Society (ACS), the North American Catalysis Society, TriState Catalysis Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Materials Research Society. He authored/co-authored over 850 publications and received four Elsevier most-cited author awards. Burt was awarded the prestigious Henry H. Storch Award in Fuel Science in 2002 by ACS for his significant contributions in catalysis, Fischer−Tropsch synthesis, and coal conversion research. In 2011, he became an ACS Fellow. In 2013, he earned ACS’s Energy and Fuels Division’s Distinguished Researcher Award in Petroleum Chemistry. In 2014, he was presented to the Distinguished Service award by the NACS, and the “Distinguished West Virginian Award” by then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
Burt Davis received his B.S. degree in chemistry from West Virginia University, M.S. from St. Joseph’s University while he was working at Atlantic Refining, and PhD from University of Florida. He worked under Paul Emmett as a post-doctorate researcher on catalysis at the John Hopkins University.
He worked at Mobil for four years, where he discovered a platinum-10 catalyst for converting gasoline from low-octane to high-octane. After seven years of teaching at Potomac State College as an Associate Professor of Chemistry, Davis followed his great passion for research, and started working at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy where he was responsible for catalysis, Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis and direct coal liquefaction research. He created a program that involved both academic research and cooperative research with industry. He has developed a laboratory with extensive capability in use the of radioactive and stable isotopes in reaction mechanism studies and materials characterization and developed research programs in Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis, surface science studies, heterogeneous catalysis, materials science, organic analysis, 1/4 ton per day direct coal liquefaction pilot plant operation, liquefaction mechanistic studies, clean gasoline reforming with superacid catalysts, and upgrading naphthas.

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