Oral History Center - UC Berkeley Library

Alexis T. Bell: A Career in Catalysis and University Administration at UC Berkeley

Bell, Alexis T.
Eardley-Pryor, Roger
Alexis T. Bell: A Career in Catalysis and University Administration at UC Berkeley
Alexis T. Bell is the Dow Professor of Sustainable Chemistry in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry. Bell was born on October 16, 1942 in New York City to immigrant parents who fled the Soviet Revolution and taught Bell to speak and read Russian fluently. Bell earned his PhD in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967, and then joined the faculty at UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry in what is now the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. At Berkeley, Bell became an internationally recognized leader in heterogeneous catalysis and chemical-reaction engineering who pioneered the development and application of spectroscopic methods to elucidate catalytic processes, as well as the application of experimental methods in combination with theoretical methods. Bell has been a Principal Investigator in the Chemical Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 1975. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Bell's work in administration at Berkeley includes twice chairing his department, serving as dean of the College of Chemistry, and chairing various committees in the Academic Senate. In this interview, Bell details his family's Russian ancestry, his education, the academic evolution of chemical engineering, and his research in four thematic areas: reaction engineering of plasma processes; heterogeneous catalysis research on new materials and energy resources; multitechnique catalysis studies in structure-property relations; and applications of theory to catalysis. Bell then outlines his administrative career at UC Berkeley, and he discusses his personal life as a father and a husband.
Subject area(s):
Education, University of California
Science, Technology, and Health
Interview date(s):
2018 | 2019
Education and University of California - Individual Interviews
Alexis T. Bell, "Alexis T. Bell: A Career in Catalysis and University Administration at UC Berkeley," conducted by Roger Eardley-Pryor in 2018 and 2019, Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2020.