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University of Wisconsin - Madison College of Engineering
Photo of James Dumesic.

James A. Dumesic
Steenbock Professor of Chemical Engineering

The 2002 Byron Bird Award for Excellence in a Research Publication is presented to Steenbock Professor of Chemical Engineering James Dumesic for his work in microkinetic modeling. The study of reaction kinetics reveals information about the rate at which change takes place and the mechanism by which the reactants in a chemical process are converted to the products. In a series of five papers, Dumesic provides unique insight into how to construct microscopic kinetics and thermodynamics for an entire set of elementary reaction steps characterizing the complex reaction network of several industrially important catalytic chemical processes. Dumesic conducted studies and developed a comprehensive approach that can quantify reaction rates for isobutane conversion over a wide temperature range and over different zeolite materials. This pioneering approach for extracting quantitative chemical information about hydrocarbon reactions on solid acid catalysts identified a variety of conditions under which reliable reaction kinetics data can be collected.

He and his group also illustrated how microkinetic analysis can be applied to a test problem with excellent predictive results. His textbook on microkinetics has become a classic and is widely considered the definitive reference on microkinetic modeling.

Dumesic has led the whole field of catalysis to many successes. Most notably, he introduced microcalorimetry which colleagues say has led the field to new depths of understanding for numerous catalytic reaction mechanisms.

As one of the most decorated scientists in the field of catalysis and chemical engineering in general, he has been recognized with the Colburn Award and Wilhelm Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Emmett Award from the North American Catalysis Society and the New York and Michigan Catalysis Awards. In 1998, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Recently, he was appointed as one of the two associate editors of the Journal of Catalysis. He is a recipient of several teaching awards, including the Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award.

Dumesic joined the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1976. He served two terms as chair. He earned his BS from UW-Madison and his MS and PhD from Stanford University.