The R. H. Wilhelm Award for Chemical Reaction Engineering recognizes significant new contributions in that field, and is sponsored by ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.
The 2023 Wilhelm Award recipient is Dr. Michael P. Harold, the Cullen Engineering Professor in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Houston. Dr. Harold is being recognized “For the synthesis, analysis, and development of novel multifunctional reactors and catalysts for reduced emissions, intensified and safer operation, and higher desired product selectivity.”
Mike Harold and the other Institute and Board of Directors’ Award recipients will be honored at the 2023 AIChE Annual Meeting, November 5–10 in Orlando, Florida.
About Michael Harold and his work
Over his career, Mike Harold has advanced the understanding of fundamental aspects of reaction systems while providing useful guidance to practitioners. His research on multi-functional reactors and catalysts has contributed to reduced emissions and byproduct formation, as well as to more intensive and safer chemical reactors.
Beginning at Penn State University, where he received his BS in chemical engineering, Mike Harold went on to earn his PhD at the University of Houston. In 1985, he joined the Chemical Engineering Department at University of Massachusetts, where he became associate professor. In the 1990s, Dr. Harold spent time in industry at DuPont, where he worked in technical and managerial positions. In 2000, he returned to the University of Houston as the Dow Chair Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering — a position that he held for 16 years. He has advised 39 doctoral students, documented his work in 185 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and presented 130 invited lectures.
The time that I spent in industry helped to shape my approach to research and to hone my leadership skills. In research, my focus has been on the fundamentals while keeping the application in direct view.
A Fellow of AIChE, Harold served as editor-in-chief of AIChE Journal from 2012–2021, and as a leader of AIChE’s Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division. He also served as president of the International Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering, Inc.
Harold reflects on receiving the award
In acknowledging the Wilhelm Award honor, Dr. Harold expressed his appreciation for the students, post docs, mentors, and peers that he has collaborated with in academia and industry. He added, “I am also grateful to my wife Robin and my family for helping me achieve a work-life balance and a healthy dose of humility.”
Reflecting on his collaborations, Harold says “conducting research mostly at the interface of catalysis and reaction engineering, my collaborators and I have strived to understand the chemical and kinetic complexities at the molecular level as well as the coupling of those chemical processes with reactor scale transport processes. Our approach has been to conduct probing experiments under application-relevant conditions, while building first-principles models to predict the measurements.”
Harold adds that the marriage of experiments and modeling is the truest path to a deep understanding of the work at hand. “The time that I spent in industry helped to shape my approach to research and to hone my leadership skills. In research, my focus has been on the fundamentals while keeping the application in direct view. This led to our studies of multi-functional catalysts for emission control and hydrogen generation.”
This fall, ChEnected is presenting profiles of all the 2023 Institute and Board of Directors’ Award recipients. Visit ChEnected regularly to meet the honorees.