Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“The Useful Science of Paul Emmett,” Dr. Burtron Davis

Resident Scholar Lecture

April 30, 2009

Speaker Biography

Burtron Davis
Burtron Davis (University of Kentucky)

“The Useful Science of Paul Emmett”  Watch Video

Burtron Davis is Associate Director of the Center for Applied Energy Research at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Davis graduated with a B.S. in chemistry from West Virginia University in 1959 followed by a M.S. from St. Joseph's College (Philadelphia) and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He did his postdoctoral work under Paul Emmett at Johns Hopkins from 1965-66. This was followed by a period of research with Mobil R & D Corporation, where he worked on naphtha reforming and aromatics hydrogenation. After working for Mobil, he returned to academia where he held the appointment of Associate Professor of Chemistry, Potomac State College, West Virginia from 1970-77. In 1977 he joined the staff of the Center for Applied Energy Research.

At the CAER he is responsible for developing a program in catalysis, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, surface science studies, clean gasoline reforming with superacid catalysts, upgrading naphthas and direct coal liquefaction. This program involves both academic research and cooperative research with industry. He has developed a laboratory with extensive capabilities using radioactive and stable isotopes in reaction mechanism studies and materials characterization. He is also the author or co-author of more than 400 publications.

Apart from his wide interests in direct and indirection coal liquefaction, catalysis in coal conversion, and synfuels production, he is responsible for videotaping about 2,000 historical figures in science. This 'hobby' has documented some of the greatest scientists of the last century, thus securing a lasting archive of valuable information that would have otherwise been lost. For many years he has also been developing a book-length biography of the catalysis chemist Paul Emmett, Davis's former mentor.