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Professors Gubbins and Ollis Honored at Retirement Celebration

CBE Professors Keith Gubbins and David Ollis celebrated their retirement surrounded by family, friends and colleagues on Saturday, August 27th, at the Park Alumni Center. Professor Gubbins, the W.H. Clark Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, retired after working at NC State for 22 years, and as a professor for 46 years. Professor Ollis is a University Distinguished Professor Emeritus and joined NC State in 1984 and retired with 38 years of service to NC State. On behalf of the entire CBE community, we congratulate these academic pioneers for their contributions to chemical engineering over the years!

Dr. Gubbins receiving a framed image of the NC State Belltower, signed by his friends.

Keith Gubbins was born in Southampton, on the south coast of England. He received the Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of London for research on fluidized bed reactors, after which he was postdoctoral fellow, followed by faculty positions at the University of Florida. In 1976 he joined Cornell University as the Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Engineering and was Director of the School of Chemical Engineering there from 1983 to 1990. He joined North Carolina State University as the W.H. Clark Professor in 1998. His research interests are in applying statistical mechanics, molecular theory and molecular simulation to problems in chemical engineering, including the prediction of phase equilibria and transport in complex fluid mixtures, both in the bulk phase and when confined in porous solids. He is the co-author of three monographs and of approximately 580 publications in refereed scientific journals.

Professor Gubbins has delivered numerous named lectureships and has delivered over 600 invited lectures. He held visiting professorships at universities in the U.S. and overseas, including California Berkeley, Wisconsin Madison, Oxford, Imperial College London, Hong Kong, Kyoto and Paris-Sud. His awards for research include Guggenheim Fellow (Oxford University), Fulbright Senior Scholar (Australian National University), SERC Senior Visiting Fellow (Oxford and Imperial College London), William H. Walker Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Hildebrand Award for research on liquids from the American Chemical Society, and the Lennard-Jones Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, U.S.A.

Professor Gubbin’s scientific accomplishments over the last 60 years have had a transformative impact on the fields of statistical mechanics and computer simulation, earning him numerous accolades and firmly establishing his role as international leader in the field. They have also resulted in physical understanding of many complex phenomena and systems, widely used practical tools for process modeling and materials characterization, and advanced theoretical and computational approaches that are currently helping researchers to address new and challenging problems. Perhaps equally impactful, however, has been his unwavering dedication to mentorship. Over his career, he has advised 48 Ph.D. students and 53 postdoctoral researchers, more than 50 of whom have transitioned to academic positions at institutions in the United States, Asia, Europe and Australia.

Dr. Ollis addressed the group and reflected on his years at NC State.

David Ollis earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, all in chemical engineering, from Caltech, Northwestern and Stanford Universities, respectively. Prior to joining NC State’s faculty in 1984, he was a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California at Davis and at Princeton University. Professor Ollis’ academic career spans biochemical engineering, catalysis and photocatalysis and engineering education.

Professor Ollis authored and co-authored more than 140 journal articles with his colleagues and has delivered more than 200 invited lectures in English and French. According to Google Scholar, his books and research papers have been cited almost 22,000 times. Four of his papers have been cited more than 1000 times and two have been cited more than 2000 times.

In addition to his prominence as a researcher, Professor Ollis has been the catalyst for many innovative engineering courses during his tenure at NC State. The Freshman Engineering Laboratory he developed provided freshman students with an introduction to hands-on involvement with engineering products and processes. At the graduate level, all first-year CBE doctoral students take the research proposition courses he helped develop.

He has received numerous awards recognizing his excellence in the classroom, including a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the NC State Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor Award, the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Sterling Olmsted Award from the Liberal Education Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

The David F. Ollis Lecture Series in Biochemical Engineering celebrates the pioneering contributions of Professor Ollis to the fields of chemical and biomolecular engineering and to engineering education. Supported by the department and the Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC), the Ollis series is a showcase for nationwide expertise.

David Ollis reacts to one of Keith Gubbins’ quips.