uc davis chemical engineering professor bruce gates acs catalysis
Photo: UC Davis Engineering

Bruce Gates elected National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Chemical Engineering Distinguished Professor Bruce Gates was recently elected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Being elected an NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction given to inventors in academia. It highlights academic inventors whose outstanding inventions have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and societal welfare.

Gates is the 12th UC Davis faculty member and the first from the Department of Chemical Engineering to receive the honor. He will be recognized at the NAI Fellows Induction Ceremony in Phoenix in June 2022.

“I especially appreciate how the NAI recognizes advances in fundamental understanding that have opened the way—often years later—to new technology,” he said. “The NAI encourages us engineering faculty to work with our research students to develop their basic skills and independence while casting an eye on technology and trying to do something significant in the long run for the good of people and our environment.”

Gates is a world-renowned researcher and his group has made significant contributions to the fundamental understanding of catalysts, materials that facilitate chemical reactions. In his five-decade career, Gates has incorporated sophisticated catalyst synthesis methods and catalyst characterization and testing techniques to help improve x-ray absorption spectroscopy and complementary methods to better understand the atomic-scale structures of catalytic materials and how they control catalyst performance.

He is a pioneer in the area of structurally well-defined catalysts, which are increasingly finding technological application. His work on fossil fuel conversion led to the identification of the “bottleneck” sulfur-containing compounds in petroleum that are hardest to remove in processes to manufacture clean-burning (low-sulfur) fuels. The discovery helped greatly improve air quality worldwide by limiting the emissions of sulfur oxides from fuel combustion, leading to the near elimination of the words “acid rain” from our vocabularies.

NAI fellowship adds to Gates’ numerous accolades. He has received awards from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, the North American Catalysis Society, and the Council for Chemical Research. He was also elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007.

He received his B.S. at UC Berkeley and his Ph.D. at the University of Washington – Seattle and worked as a research engineer at Chevron before starting his academic career at the University of Delaware. He joined UC Davis in 1992. Gates has mentored more than 80 graduate students and 70 postdoctoral and visiting scholars and written two books, Catalytic Chemistry and Chemistry of Catalytic Processes, the latter of which has been translated into Japanese, Russian, and Chinese.

The National Academy of Inventors was founded in 2010 to highlight and promote academic inventors and change the culture of academia to recognize and reward the value of faculty patents and commercialization. To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 48,000 issued U.S. patents, which have generated more than 13,000 licensed technologies and companies and created more than one million jobs. In addition, over $3 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

Learn more about Gates.

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