Joe M. Smith | July 27, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 30 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 30 | p. 67 | Obituaries
Issue Date: July 27, 2009

Joe M. Smith

Department: ACS News
Keywords: Obituaries, People

Joe M. Smith, 93, emeritus professor of chemical engineering at the University of California, Davis, died on June 7.

Born in Sterling, Colo., and raised in Long Beach, Calif., Smith earned a bachelor's degree in applied chemistry from California Institute of Technology in 1937.

He then worked in the petroleum industry for four years before earning an Sc.D. in chemical engineering in 1943 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Warren K. Lewis. He served briefly as an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, and in 1945, joined the faculty of Purdue University. He became professor at Purdue in 1951 while he was authoring "Introduction to Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics" and "Chemical Engineering Kinetics."

In 1957, Smith moved to Northwestern University to serve as chair of the department. Four years later, UC Davis hired him to lay the groundwork for its College of Engineering. He became founding chair of its department of chemical engineering in 1964. He left the chairmanship in 1972 and retired from teaching in 1986. He continued with research for another 10 years.

Smith's research interests included the design and development of catalytic reactors, chemical reaction engineering, chemical-vapor infiltration, mass-transfer phenomena, petroleum and petrochemical processing, and supercritical-fluid processes. He was an author on 338 publications.

Smith held numerous Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships. He received many awards and honors, including his election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1975. Along with his wife, he created the Joe & Essie Smith Endowed Professorship in Chemical Engineering & Materials Science at UC Davis in 1996. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1939.

Smith is survived by his wife of 63 years; two daughters, Rebecca and Marsha; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.


Susan J. Ainsworth writes obituaries. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include a detailed educational and professional history.

Chemical & Engineering News
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