Bert Weckhuysen receives honorary doctorate from Ghent University

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Bert Weckhuysen
Bert Weckhuysen

Ghent University is awarding an honorary doctorate to Bert Weckhuysen , Professor of Inorganic Chemistry & Catalysis at Utrecht University. The doctorate is a special honour for his exceptional scientific achievements. The honorary doctorate will be awarded during the Dies Natalis of Ghent University, on Friday, March 22. Honorary supervisors are Professors Veronique van Speybroek and Kevin van Geem of the Ghent Faculty of Engineering and Architecture.

"Prof. Bert Weckhuysen is considered one of the founders of in-situ spectroscopy of heterogeneous catalysts," says Van Speybroek. Van Geem adds: "He has obtained profound, innovative insights into molecularand atomic-scale phenomena using spectroscopy. His pioneering scientific research not only pushes the boundaries of catalyst characterization, but also reveals the secrets of important catalytic processes."

The collaboration with the world-renowned Utrecht group is of great value to the research in Ghent

Prof. Veronique van Speybroek, honorary supervisor

According to the honorary supervisors, Weckhuysen has long maintained good ties with various research groups at Ghent University, through joint research projects and the exchange of researchers. "The collaboration with the world-renowned Utrecht group is of great value to the research in Ghent on catalysis and sustainable chemical processes," Van Speybroek claims.

Catalysis and materials science

Bert Weckhuysen has been Distinguished University Professor since 2018. The central research theme of his group is the development of structure-activity relationships in the field of heterogeneous catalysis and materials science. In doing so, he places special emphasis on the use of advanced spatiotemporal characterization techniques under realistic reaction conditions. Last May, for example, he revealed , together with his Belgian colleague Sara Bals, a mechanism behind an old concept called strong metal support interaction (SMSI). The results appeared in the leading scientific journal Science.

Sustainable chemical industry

Weckhuysen’s research plays a major role in making the chemical industry more sustainable. He strongly believes that chemistry is the key to transforming into a more sustainable society. A society in which materials can be reused again and again, and chemical building blocks and energy carriers are produced in a circular way, using new raw materials such as biomass or waste streams. Inspired by this vision, Weckhuysen leads large-scale programmes with industrial and academic stakeholders.

Praised scientist

Weckhuysen’s work has been honoured with many scientific awards, including the Spinoza Award in 2013, the Robert B. Anderson Award (2018), the Kozo Tanabe Prize for Acid-Base Catalysis (2017), the International Catalysis Award (2012), the Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis (2011), and the Netherlands Catalysis and Chemistry Award (2009). Just last year, he received the first-ever Chemistry Europe Award, and honorary professorships at Tianjin University and East China University of Science and Technology. Weckhuysen is also an elected member of the European Academy of Sciences, the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts. In 2015, he was appointed Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.