A professor in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Cullen College of Engineering has been recognized for his advancements in the field of chemical reaction engineering.
Michael P. Harold, Cullen Professor of Engineering, is the 2023 recipient of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) R. H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering, sponsored by ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Company. The award “recognizes an individual's significant and new contribution in chemical reaction engineering. The recipient will have advanced the frontiers of chemical reaction engineering through originality, creativity, and novelty of concept or application.”
Harold has been a member of the faculty at UH since 2000, and earned his doctorate from Cullen in 1985. Harold has served as advisor to 39 doctoral students, authored 185 peer-reviewed papers and chapters, and presented 130 invited lectures.
Through probing experiments and modeling spanning the molecular to reactor scales, 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 led to reduced emissions and byproduct formation, and to more intensive and safer chemical reactors.
“I am truly honored to receive the 2023 Wilhelm Award from AIChE,” Harold said. “Throughout my career spanning academia and industry, I am fortunate to have worked with the very best of mentors, talented students and post docs, and peers. I have so many people to thank!”
He added, “We’ve conducted research mostly at the interface of catalysis and reaction engineering, striving to understand the chemical and kinetic complexities at the molecular level as well as the coupling of the kinetics with transport processes. Our approach has been to conduct probing experiments under application relevant conditions while building fundamental models to predict the measurements. After all, the marriage of experiments and modeling is the truest path to a deep understanding!”
The first Wilhelm Award recognized its namesake in 1966. Harold is the third recipient from the Cullen College of Engineering. Dan Luss and Neal Amundson earned the award in 1986 and 1973, respectively. Harold has a connection to both of this recipients.
“I am indebted to my doctoral advisor Professor Dan Luss and his advisor Professor Neal Amundson,” he said. “I am proud to carry on the legacy in the Amundson academic family!”
Founded in 1908, the AlChE is the leading professional organization for chemical engineers, with more than 60,000 members.
Beyond his work at UH, Harold also worked at DuPont from 1993 to 2000, which he also highlighted as being important in his academic success.
“I am grateful for the years I spent at DuPont where I learned how to attack the fundamentals while keeping the applications in direct view,” he said. “Finally, I am grateful to my wife Robin and my family for enabling me to pursue my dream while sustaining a work-life balance, and getting a healthy dose of humility!”