In Memoriam: Jose Fripiat

Colleagues … we have just received the attached obituary sharing the passing of our former colleague Jose Fripiat on 7 February 2014, from the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.  He also shared his research time & expertise within the Laboratory for Surface Studies.

Thanks for your attention.

Erika Sander

Jose Fripiat1

Jose Fripiat, who was a Distinguished Professor in the Chemistry Department and Laboratory for Surface Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1986 to 1999, passed away in Mexico City, Mexico on February 7th 2014.

Professor Fripiat was born in Namur, Belgium on July 1, 1923. He obtained a M.S. degree in Chemistry and Physics in 1944 and the Doctorat en Sciences with highest distinction in 1949, both at the Université Catholique de Louvain. He started his career as a “soil physicist” in a research institute located in the Belgian Congo. While working in Congo he calculated and measured the motion of the water levels in soils of Central Africa and was able to predict it. Following a year in the United States in 1950with Debye in Cornell University on a Marshall scholarship, he was appointed Assistant Professor in 1951 at the University of Louvain. In 1959, he became Full Professor and Director of the Laboratoire de Physico-Chimie Minérale. In 1972, Professor Fripiat was appointed Professor at the University of Illinois and in 1974 moved back to Europe where he was appointed Director of the C.N.R.S. Centre de Recherche sur les Solides à Organization Cristalline Imparfaite, at Orléans, France. Following his first retirement from the C.N.R.S., he succeeded Keith Hall as a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the Laboratory for Surface Studies. During his time in Milwaukee, he continued his pioneering work on clays and clay minerals by applying physical techniques to understanding their surface and catalytic properties. He used solid-state NMR to explore the nature and catalytic role of the Bronsted and Lewis acid sites present in aluminosilicate materials. He remained in Milwaukee until his second retirement in 1999, during which he had published over 80 peer-reviewed papers. He then split his time between Mexico, where he continued to work and publish at the Instituto Mexicano del Petróleo, where he published his last paper at the end of 2012, and Orleans in France.

His work was recognized by numerous awards including the Barman Award of the Belgium Royal Academy (1951), Médaille d’argent de la Société Française de la Science du Sol (1964), the Francqui Prize on Exact Sciences for his work on surface chemistry (1967), became a Member of the Académie royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts (1968), awarded the F. G. Ciapetta Lectureship in Catalysis (1973), the Marilyn and Sturges W. Bailey Award from The Clay Minerals Society (1975) and was made Fellow of the Spanish Clay Society (2005).