The George H. Heilmeier Faculty Award for Excellence in Research

The George H. Heilmeier Faculty Award for Excellence in Research was established by Penn Engineering for the purpose of recognizing excellence in scholarly activities of the faculty. Named in honor of George H. Heilmeier, it recognizes his extraordinary research career, his leadership in technical innovation and public service, and his loyal and steadfast support of Penn Engineering.

John Vohs2014 Heilmeier Award and Lecture

John M. Vohs
Carl V.S. Patterson Professor
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

"Nano-Structured Catalysts for Chemical Transformations"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.
Wu and Chen Auditorium, Levine Hall

Many of the chemical transformations required to convert crude oil, biomass, and natural gas into more useful forms of energy and value-added products are facilitated by reactions that occur on the surfaces of solid catalysts. These catalysts, often composed of metal or metal oxide nanoparticles, decrease reaction activation barriers and help control selectivity. In this talk, Dr. Vohs will describe his research into the relationships between the structure of these catalysts and their reactivity. Examples will be drawn from catalytic materials that are used in fuel cells, automotive emissions control, and biomass conversion to liquid fuels, with a focus on methods to engineer the structure of these materials at the nanoscale in order to enhance performance.

John M. Vohs is the Carl V.S. Patterson Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware, both in Chemical Engineering. Dr. Vohs joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1989.

Dr. Vohs has been the recipient of numerous awards including, the American Chemical Society’s Victor K. LaMer Award, the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Union Carbide Research Innovation Award, and the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia Award. He has authored more than 280 publications and holds seven U.S. Patents.

His research interests are in the areas of surface science, catalysis, and solid oxide fuel cells. The Vohs Lab specializes in elucidating structure-activity relationships for a variety of catalytic materials, including metals and metal oxides, and the development of anodes and cathodes for solid oxide fuel cells and electrolyzers. Current research topics in the lab include understanding the catalytic pathways for the reforming of bio-derived molecules, such as ethanol and glucose, to produce hydrogen and fuels, and using electrochemical techniques to characterize fuel cell and other catalysts.

Past Awardees Include:

2012-13: Vijay Kumar - For "pioneering contributions to the science and technology of cooperative robotics." Learn more...

2011-12: Karen I. Winey - "For innovative methods in the fabrication and processing of polymer-based nanotube composites" Learn more...

2010-11: Christopher S. Chen - "For fundamental contributions in the study and design of cellular microenvironments" Learn more...

2009-10: Rajeev Alur – "For fundamental contributions in software verification for real-time systems" Learn more...

2008-09: Scott Diamond – "Discoveries and innovations in high throughput screening and micro-array technology"

2007-08: Nader Engheta – "Research contributions on nano-optics and related metamaterials"

2006-07: Pedro Ponte-Castañeda - "Homogenization theory for estimating effective mechanical behavior of nonlinear, heterogeneous materials"

2005-06: Dawn A. Bonnell - For significant contributions in "Nanolithography and nanostructure assembly"

2004-05: Michael Kearns - "New algorithmic ideas in game theory and machine learning"

2003-04:  Dennis E. Discher and Daniel A. Hammer - "Polymersomes, discovery and characterization"

2002-03:  David E. Luzzi - "Carbon nanotubes and 'peapods'"

2001-02:  Raymond J. Gorte - "Solid oxide fuel cells"

George H. Heilmeier, EE'58

Dr. George H. HeilmeierDr. George H. Heilmeier was Chairman Emeritus of Telcordia Technologies, formerly Bellcore, a leading provider of communications software and professional services. Prior to his retirement in November 1997, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He also served as Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer of Texas Instruments, Inc., Director of DARPA and Head of Solid State Device Research at RCA. Dr. Heilmeier received international recognition for his discovery of several new electro-optic effects in liquid crystals leading to the development of the first liquid crystal displays for watches, calculators, and instrumentation, and he held 15 patents.

Dr. Heilmeier received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and M.A., M.S.E., and Ph.D. degrees in solid-state electronics from Princeton University. He is known for his operational, technical and strategic leadership in transforming new technologies into market driven successes. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Heilmeier received numerous awards, including the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Founders Medal, the National Academy of Engineering's highest honor the Founders Award, the Japan Prize in Computers and Communications, the Industrial Research Institute Medal, and the National Medal of Science, among others. In 2002, he received the Pioneer of Stealth Award for "Visionary Leadership and Trailblazing Contributions of Enduring National Significance in the Development of Low Observable Aircraft."

Dr. Heilmeier served as a White House Fellow, and was a Life Fellow of the IEEE and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a member of the Defense Science Board, and the National Security Agency Advisory Board. He served on the Boards of Directors of TRW, the MITRE Corporation, INET Technologies Inc., Teletech Holdings, and Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Corporation. He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and Chairman of the General Motors Technology Advisory Board. Dr. Heilmeier's leadership in telecommunications and technology management was also recognized through honorary doctorate degrees from Stevens Institute and the Israeli Institute of Technology (the Technion).

Dr. Heilmeier passed away on April 22, 2014.