The UCLA Samueli School of Engineering has appointed Philippe Sautet, a distinguished professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, as the Levi James Knight, Jr. Term Chair for Excellence, effective retroactively July 1.
Sautet, who holds faculty appointments in both the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, was selected for his contributions to the improved understanding of heterogeneous catalysis through the use of advanced computational techniques. He currently serves as the vice chair for graduate education in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and is a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.
Established in 1989 through a bequest from Knight’s wife Evalyn, the chair was named in honor of Knight who served in the U.S. Navy from 1927 to 1949, reaching the rank of captain upon his retirement. In 1952, Knight joined UCLA where he worked as a student counselor, an academic associate and a lecturer until his retirement in 1973.
In addition to his research focus on heterogeneous and electro catalysis, Sautet also is interested in theoretical surface chemistry, with applications for sustainable energy.
Prior to joining UCLA Samueli in 2016, Sautet was a research director at the National Center for Scientific Research in France. He received a doctorate in physical chemistry from Paris-Orsay University in France and joined Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California as a visiting scientist for two years before returning to France where he competed his postdoctoral training in Lyon 1 University. He then held several research and directorship positions at the University of Lyon and at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Lyon in France.
Among the many accolades Sautet has received are the Pierre Süe Grand Prize from the French Chemical Society, a silver and a bronze medal from the French National Center for Scientific Research and his election to the French Academy of Sciences. He has received France’s national order for distinguished contributions to education and for distinguished civilian achievement.
The endowment fund for the chair, which has continued to increase since it was established, was recently split to support two term chairs — the aforementioned Chair for Excellence and the Chair for Innovation held by Majid Sarrafzadeh of computer science and electrical and computer engineering. In 2003, the Knight family also funded the Evalyn Knight Chair in Engineering held by Ali Mosleh of materials science and engineering.
This article was originally published in UCLA Samueli Newsroom.