Michael Wong elected fellow of American Chemical Society

Rice chemist honored for developing nanoparticle-based catalysts

Michael Wong, professor and chair of Rice’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and professor of chemistry, has been elected a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Michael Wong

Michael Wong

The ACS Fellows Program recognizes members of the organization for outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession of chemistry and the ACS. Wong and 50 other new fellows will be honored at the society’s fall national meeting in Boston in August. He is only the third Rice faculty member to be elected a fellow of the ACS since the society established this honor in 2008.

Wong was chosen for “groundbreaking contributions to the understanding and manipulation of societally relevant chemical reactions using designer nanostructured catalysts pertaining to clean water and for excellence in materials chemistry” and for service to the catalysis community, including “outstanding leadership” of the ACS Division of Catalysis Science and Technology, according to the ACS.

Investing in faculty to achieve pre-eminence and elevating research achievement and reputation are goals of Rice’s Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade (V2C2).

Wong, who is also a professor of materials science and nanoengineering and of civil and environmental engineering, joined Rice’s faculty in 2001 and leads the Catalysis and Nanomaterials Laboratory, which specializes in developing nanoparticle-based catalysts, submicroscopic bits of metal that speed up chemical reactions. In January, Wong and colleagues demonstrated the first one-step catalyst that can directly convert toxic nitrates in drinking water into air and water. In 2013, his group showed that tiny gold spheres dotted with specks of palladium could break apart nitrites, the more toxic chemical cousins of nitrates.

Wong’s many honors include the MIT TR35 Young Innovator Award, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Nanoscale Science and Engineering Young Investigator Award, Smithsonian Magazine Young Innovator Award and the North American Catalysis Society/Southwest Catalysis Society Excellence in Applied Catalysis Award.

Founded in 1876 and chartered by Congress, ACS identifies itself as the world’s largest scientific society with over 150,000 members. Its vision is to improve people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is a Web editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.