UC Santa Barbara chemical engineering professor Michael Doherty has received one of the most prestigious honors from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), being chosen to present the John M. Prausnitz AIChE Institute Lecture for 2020. The annual honor is awarded to one distinguished AIChE member who has made significant contributions to chemical engineering in their field of specialization.
“I am extremely honored to be selected to give this lecture,” said Doherty, the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Endowed Chair in Process Systems Engineering. “Over the decades I have attended a great many Institute Lectures, and the standard is very high. I am already thinking about topics, and soon I will contact former lecturers for their advice. It’s better to receive it before the lecture than after.”
The lectureship is endowed by the AIChE Foundation in honor of Prausnitz, a chemical engineering professor at UC Berkeley and a National Medal of Science recipient, who pioneered the field of engineering-oriented molecular thermodynamics. Doherty has strong connections to Prausnitz, having worked closely with him for the past decade on the journal Annual Reviews of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Prausnitz was the founding editor, while Doherty and Rachel Segalman, professor and chair of UCSB’s Chemical Engineering Department, were his co-associate editors; they took over as co-editors after Prausnitz retired.
“I have known John for almost my entire career, since I spent a sabbatical year with his sponsorship at UC Berkeley in 1984,” said Doherty. “He has been my mentor and advocate ever since, which has been a great act of generosity, since I was never one of his students.”
Doherty’s research focuses on process systems engineering with particular emphasis on crystal engineering, and separation with chemical reaction. He holds six patents, has published more than 200 technical papers and given more than 250 invited lectures. Previously, Doherty was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and received the E.V. Murphree Award for Industrial and Engineering Chemistry from the American Chemical Society, and the Alpha Chi Sigma Award for Chemical Engineering Research and three divisional research awards from AIChE. He was also listed among the top “One Hundred Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era” in 2008.
Doherty hopes Prausnitz will be in the audience when he presents his lecture in mid-November during the 2020 AIChE Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The AIChE has more than 60,000 members from 110 countries.