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Washington State University
The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Past Ensor Lectures

2022 – Levi Thompson

Headshot of Dr. Levi Thompson

Professor Thompson is Dean of the College of Engineering and Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He leads a college of nearly 200 faculty, 3,600 students and 120 staff with a number of major research centers. Professor Thompson earned his B.ChE. from the University of Delaware, and M.S.E. degrees in Chemical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan (UM).

He was a faculty member at the University of Michigan where he served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, Director of the Hydrogen Energy Technology Laboratory and Director of the Michigan-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. His scholarly research on nanostructured materials for catalytic and energy storage applications is described in more than 150 publications and more than 10 patents.

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the AIChE and recipient of awards including the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, McBride Distinguished Lectureship, Union Carbide Innovation Recognition Award, and Michiganian of the Year Award for his research, entrepreneurship, and teaching. He co-founded T/J Technologies, a developer of nanomaterials for advanced batteries that was acquired by A123 Systems, and Inmatech, a developer of low cost, high energy density supercapacitors for automotive and military applications.

Lecture: Turning Base Metals into Gold: The Unusual Properties of Nanostructured Early Transition Metal Carbides and Nitrides

2020 – Christopher Jones

Christopher Jones is the William R. McLain Chair and Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. He previously served as Associate Vice President for Research from 2013-2019, including a period as Interim Executive Vice-President for Research in 2018.

Dr. Jones leads a research group that works in the broad areas of materials, catalysis and adsorption. He is known for his extensive and pioneering work on materials that extract CO2 from ultra-dilute mixtures such as ambient air, which are key components of direct air capture (DAC) technologies. For the past decade, he has worked closely with Global Thermostat LLC, on DAC technology development.

He also has produced extensive body of work in catalysis, including heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis, spanning from asymmetric catalysis in organic synthesis (specialty synthesis) to conversion of syngas into higher alcohols (commodity production).

Jones has published almost 300 peer-reviewed scholarly papers on catalysis and separations, and has mentored 100 MS, PhD and post-doctoral students over the past 20 years.

The American Chemical Society recognized Jones’ catalysis research with the Ipatieff Prize in 2010, followed by the North American Catalysis Society with the Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis in 2013. Dr. Jones is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal, ACS Catalysis, and is Vice-President of the North American Catalysis Society.

In 2016, he was recognized by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for his work in catalysis and CO2 capture with the Andreas Acrivos Award for Professional Progress.

Lecture: Amine-Modified Silicates as CO2 Sorbents that Enable Direct Air Capture Technologies

Christopher Jones Headshot

2019 – Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos

Dr. Flytzani-Stephanopoulos Headshot.

Dr. Flytzani-Stephanopoulos is a Distinguished Professor and the Robert and Marcy Haber Endowed Professor in Energy Sustainability in the School of Engineering at Tufts University. She directs the Tufts Nano Catalysis and Energy Laboratory, which investigates new catalyst materials for efficient and clean production of hydrogen and chemicals. Pioneering work from her lab has demonstrated the use of single atom heterogeneous catalysts for several reactions of interest to fuels and chemicals processing. These catalysts with 100% atomic efficiency of precious metals and high selectivity to the desired product will enable more efficient and sustainable chemical process development. Dr. Flytzani-Stephanopoulos joined the Chemical Engineering faculty at Tufts in 1994. She holds ten patents and has written more than 170 technical papers. She has been an editor of the journal Applied Catalysis B: Environmental since 2002, and is an associate editor of Science Advances. She is the recipient of many awards and distinctions, including the Tufts Distinguished Scholar award, the Henry J. Albert award of the International Precious Metals Institute, the Giuseppe Parravano Memorial award of the Michigan Catalysis Society, the Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award of the Tufts School of Engineering, and the Carol Tyler award of the IPMI. She holds Honorary Professorships at Tianjin University and the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, is a Fellow of the AAAS and the AIChE, and a member of the US National Academy of Engineering.

Lecture: The Changing Landscape of Heterogeneous Catalysts: Single Metal Atoms as Game‑Changers

2018 – L.-S. Fan

L.-S. Fan is Distinguished University Professor and C. John Easton Professor in Engineering in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The Ohio State University. He has been on the faculty of Chemical Engineering at Ohio State since 1978 and served as Department Chair from 1994 – 2003. Professor Fan received his B.S. (1970) from National Taiwan University, and his M.S. (1973) and Ph.D. (1975) from West Virginia University, all in Chemical Engineering. In addition, he earned an M.S. (1978) in Statistics from Kansas State University.

Professor Fan’s expertise is in fluidization and multiphase flow, powder technology and energy and environmental reaction engineering. He is an inventor of 7 industrially viable clean fossil conversion processes: OSCAR, CARBONOX, PH Swing, CCR, Calcium Looping, Syngas and Coal-Direct Chemical Looping Processes. These processes control sulfur, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide emissions and convert carbonaceous fuels to hydrogen, electricity or liquid fuels. He also invented the electrical capacitance volume tomography for 3-dimensional, real time multiphase flow imaging that is currently being used in academia and industry. Professor Fan is the Editor-in-Chief of Powder Technology and has served as a consulting editor of ten other journals and book series, including the AIChE Journal, I&EC Research, and the International Journal of Multiphase Flow. He has authored or co-authored five books, 420 journal papers, and 55 patents.

Professor Fan has received a number of awards in recognition of his research and teaching including the ACS E. V. Murphree Award, the AIChE Alpha Chi Sigma, R. H. Wilhelm, and 67th Institute Lectureship Awards, the ASEE Dow Lectureship, the CCR Malcolm Pruitt Award, the R&D 100 Award, International Fluidization Achievement Award, and The Ohio State University Charles E. MacQuigg Award for Outstanding Teaching and Joseph Sullivant Medal for Distinguished Teaching, Research and Service. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the AIChE, as well as a Member of the U. S. National Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the Australia Academy of Technology Science and Engineering (ATSE), the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and the Academia Sinica. Professor Fan was named in 2008 as one of the “One Hundred Engineers of the Modern Era” by the AIChE.

Lecture: Chemical Looping Technology for Combustion, Gasification, Reforming, and Chemical Syntheses

Professor L.-S. Fan Headshot.

2017 – Gabor A. Somorjai

Gabor A. Somorjai Photo.

Gabor A. Somorjai is a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and is a leading researcher in the field of surface chemistry and catalysis, especially the catalytic effects of metal surfaces. For his contributions to the field, Somorjai won the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1998, the Linus Pauling Award in 2000, the National Medal of Science in 2002, the Priestley Medal in 2008, the 2010 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Science and the NAS Award in Chemical Sciences in 2013. Most recently, in April 2015, Somorjai was awarded the American Chemical Society’s William H. Nichols Medal Award. During his career, Somorjai has published more than one thousand papers and three textbooks on surface chemistry and heterogeneous catalysis. Somorjai’s expertise in surfaces was used as a consultant to the 2002 Winter Olympics where he gave advice on how to make ice-skating surfaces as fast as possible. He is now the most-often cited person in the fields of surface chemistry and catalysis. The Gabor A. Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis, consisting of US$5,000 and a certificate, is given annually to recognize outstanding research in the field of catalysis.

Lecture: The Surface Science Approach to Molecular Catalysis: Transition from Studies of Crystal Surfaces in Vacuum to High Pressure and Liquid Phase Heterogeneous, Homogeneous, and Enzyme Nanoparticle Catalysis

2016 – Bruce Gates

Bruce Gates studied chemical engineering at Berkeley (B.S., 1961) and the University of Washington (PhD, 1966) and with a Fulbright grant did postdoctoral research at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich. He worked for two years as a research engineer at Chevron Research Company and began as an assistant professor at the University of Delaware in 1969, becoming the H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Chemistry. In 1992 he joined the University of California, Davis, where he is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. He has spent four sabbatical years at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich and was recently a guest professor at Hokkaido University. Gates’s research is focused on catalysis, with an emphasis on essentially molecular metal complex and metal cluster catalysts anchored to solid surfaces and on catalytic conversion of biomass-derived compounds. He authored the textbooks “Catalytic Chemistry” and co-authored “Chemistry of Catalytic Processes.” He edited the monograph Advances in Catalysis for 18 years. He serves on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. He has been recognized with awards from the American Chemical Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the North American Catalysis Society, and the Council for Chemical Research. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Lecture: Molecular Metal Catalysts on Supports: Organometallic Chemistry Meets Surface Science

Bruce Gates Headshot.