“The honorary sessions are a testament to Georges’ ongoing influence on the profession and the effect his work has had on the great many people in the field who came to talk about their current research.”—Joel Plawsky
The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) devoted a series of events to honoring world-leading bioseparations expert Georges Belfort, Institute Professor and a member of the Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, during its 2016 annual meeting held November 13-18 in San Francisco.
Three sessions of invited speakers were dedicated to honoring Belfort’s contributions to the membrane research community. The society also organized a special dinner in honor of Belfort on the first evening of the conference.
Many of Belfort’s former postdoctoral researchers, doctoral students, and friends, including his wife, Marlene Belfort, Distinguished Professor, University at Albany, were speakers in the 20 lectures included in the three honorary sessions. Several members of the National Academy of Engineering also spoke. Young Moo Lee, professor and president of Hangyang University in Seoul, South Korea, also participated.
“Honorary sessions are held at the AIChE to recognize individuals who have made transformational contributions to the field of chemical engineering. Georges has had that type of impact in the fields of membrane technology and also bioseparations,” said Joel Plawsky, head of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “He has developed extraordinary membrane modules and membrane materials and is a pioneer in the use of inteins, with his wife, for separating biological molecules. He has also made significant contributions toward understanding the process by which proteins misfold and lead to fibrils. Protein fibrils are common and cause problems with storing and delivering insulin but they are most commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”
Belfort has earned a place among the world’s most respected academic and industrial chemical engineers. Throughout his career, he has made seminal contributions in liquid-phase pressure-driven membrane-based processes, bioseparations engineering, interfacial science, protein misfolding at surfaces, and affinity separations.
The editor or co-editor of three books, Belfort has published more than 225 peer-reviewed papers and 22 book chapters. His “h factor,” a key metric for academic researchers that measures both productivity and the impact of published research, is 59. He serves on the editorial boards of several international journals.
Belfort is the recipient of several major awards in the field of chemical engineering, including the 2014 Alan S. Michaels Award for Innovation in Membrane Science and Technology from the North American Membrane Society (NAMS), and the 2011 Alan S. Michaels Award in the Recovery of Biological Products from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Biotechnology Division. In 2008, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers named Belfort one of the “100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era.” Also in 2008, he received the ACS E.V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. He has won two of the top separations awards: The 1995 ACS Award in Separations Science and Technology and the 2000 AIChE Separations Division Clarence G. Gerhold Award in Separations Science & Technology.
Belfort is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the North American Membrane Society. He is co-founder and former president of NAMS, and has twice been named a fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.
“The honorary sessions are a testament to Georges’ ongoing influence on the profession and the effect his work has had on the great many people in the field who came to talk about their current research. The events were sponsored by Millipore/Sigma, Genentech, and Pall corporations, which have benefited greatly from Georges’ work and expertise,” Plawsky said.