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Alan S. Michaels Award for Innovation in Membrane Science and Technology

The Alan S. Michaels Award for Innovation in Membrane Science and Technology, consists of a $10,000 prize and lifetime membership in the North American Membrane Society (NAMS). It is given to individuals who have made breakthrough contributions to the membrane field.

Dr. Alan Michaels was one of the true innovators and pioneers in membrane science and technology. His academic and industrial work on ultrafiltration, membrane-based drug delivery systems, and new membrane processes for the biopharmaceutical industry all represented breakthroughs that helped redefine the membrane field.

This award is given by the North American Membrane Society to honor the late Dr. Michaels and to recognize individuals who have made outstanding innovations and/or exceptional lifetime contributions to membrane science and technology.

Anyone working in the field of membrane science and technology is eligible to be nominated (except for current members of the Board of Directors of NAMS).

Application Materials (submitted as one electronic PDF of MS Word file)
Nominations must be submitted by a member of the North American Membrane Society. (Note: Members of the NAMS Board of Directors cannot submit nominations during their term of office). The nomination package should include:

  • a cover letter describing the individual’s contribution and its importance to the field of membrane science and technology,
  • three letters of recommendation in support of the nomination, and
  • appropriate supporting materials, e.g., list of awards, publications, books, patents, etc.

All Awards Committee votes will be independently tallied by the Tellers Committee. If one or more Tellers Committee members also are Awards Committee members, all such members will be replaced by Board appointees for the purpose of validating the results of award voting only.

Nominations are due by October 7, 2016, to the NAMS Awards Committee Chair Uwe Beuscher per e-mail ( All nominees will be informed of the Board’s decisions by January 31, 2017, and the awardee will be recognized at the 2017 ICOM meeting in San Francisco. An award will only be given if there is a nominee whose contributions are sufficiently significant to warrant this special recognition.

Past Recipients

2002 - Dr. Richard W. Baker

Richard W. Baker

Dr. Baker, Membrane Technology and Research Inc., received the inaugural Michaels Award for:

“...for his scientific inventiveness in a number of membrane fields, ranging from controlled release to gas separation, as well as, his demonstrated achievements in transitioning developments in membrane science and engineering into commercial reality.”

He is the founder and President of Membrane Technology and Research, Inc. (MTR). His career in membrane science and technology has spanned 35 years, with contributions in gas separation, pervaporation, and controlled drug release.

Dr. Baker was a colleague of Alan Michaels first at Amicon, and then later at Alza Corporation. He later was a co-founder of Bend Research, Inc., where he was Director of Research until 1981. He then founded MTR, Inc., in 1982, to commercialize vapor separation technology (VaporSep®) which was awarded a 1990 R&D 100 Award and 1997 Chemical Engineering Magazine Kirkpatrick Award. During this period, he was also President of Pharmetrix Corporation (a joint-venture devoted to controlled release applications) and a co-founder of NAMS.

He has written two highly regarded monographs, Controlled Release of Biologically Active Agents (1987) and Membrane Technology and Applications (2000); edited two other books; co-authored over 92 peer-reviewed publications; and was inventor/co-inventor on 89 patents.

2005 - Professor Donald R. Paul

Donald R. Paul

Professor Paul, The University of Texas at Austin, received the Michaels Award for

"... forty-plus years of significant contributions to the fundamental foundation and commercial development of this field by synergistically integrating academic research with industrial collaborations."

He holds the Ernest Cockrell, Sr. Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. After earning a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, he worked at Chemstrand for two years doing fundamental research on pore formation during wet spinning of fibers. In 1967 he joined the faculty at University of Texas where he continued making ground-breaking advances in membrane technology. His contributions to wet spinning and transport mechanisms led to the development of hollow fiber asymmetric membranes for reverse osmosis, pervaporation, and gas separations. He is responsible for discoveries leading to the Prism® concept, which led to the first commercial gas separation membranes.

Professor Paul's continued collaboration with industry has helped to translate the discoveries made in his lab into commercial products for liquid and gas separations. He has published over 500 papers, 200 or so relating to membranes. Last year there were over 20,500 citations of these papers.

Professor Paul has also been very active in numerous editorial boards and professional organizations, including the founding committee for the North American Membrane Society. He has truly left an indelible mark on the membrane industry.

2008 - Professor William J. Koros

William J. Koros

Professor William J. Koros, the Roberto C. Goizueta Chair and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Membranes in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, received the Michaels award for

"... his seminal research in polymer materials for advanced membrane-based separations. Professor Koros' contributions over more than 30 years have had a profound and lasting impact on both fundamental and applied concepts related to polymer membrane-based gas separation for energy-efficient air separation, hydrogen purification, and natural gas separation."

Professor Koros helped develop the fundamental theoretical framework forming the basis of our modern understanding of small molecule transport in polymers. He made highly regarded fundamental contributions to materials science design concepts that are widely used in industry today for making gas separation membranes. His intellectual leadership extends beyond polymer membranes to include pioneering studies of hybrid organic/inorganic materials (mixed matrix membranes) for gas separations.

Professor Koros was recognized also for his outstanding contributions to education. He has mentored more than 100 PhD, MS, and Post Doctoral students, many of whom have made important contributions to membrane science and technology. Additionally, he has provided exemplary service to the profession by serving as secretary of the NAMS Board of Directors for more than 15 years and by serving 17 years as the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Membrane Science, overseeing a period of explosive growth in the number of submissions and the quality of the journal - a leading publication in the membrane field.

2011 - Dr. Norman N. Li

Norman N. Li

Dr. Norman N. Li, NL Chemical, received the Michaels Award for his pioneering contributions to the development of supported liquid membranes, mixed matrix membranes, and service to the membrane community.

Dr. Li founded NL Chemical Technology, Inc. in 1995 to develop cost effective advanced membrane technologies for water purification and desalination that address the critical needs of clean water in many parts of the world. Previously, he served as Director of Research and Technology for AlliedSignal Co. (now Honeywell) (1988 - 1995), Director of Separation Science and Technology for UOP (1981 - 1988), and Senior Scientist for Exxon Research and Engineering Co. (1963 - 1981).

Dr. Li is the author of 45 U.S. patents, 20 edited books, and 100+ technical papers. He also served as NAMS’ president in 1992-1993, organized ICOM 1990 in Chicago, and established the ECI Advanced Membrane Technology conference series.

ICOM 1990 was so successful that the meeting generated the funding that currently supports NAMS' numerous award programs. All of the students who receive travel support to NAMS meetings are beneficiaries of Dr. Li's efforts.

2014 - Dr. Georges Belfort

Georges Belfort

Professor Georges Belfort, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received the Alan S. Michaels Award for his work on ultrafiltration, microfiltration, and membrane fouling, which have led to significant advances in the application of membrane processes in the biotechnology industry, and also for his long-standing service to NAMS and the broader membrane community.

Professor Belfort is known to us for many years as a pioneer and leader in the understanding and application of membranes. He has the unusual ability to analyze the theoretical basis of key phenomena and to tackle complex experimental problems. Professor Belfort has made incredible contributions ranging from membrane processes such as reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, membrane reactors, and membrane chromatography to fundamentals including membrane transport, concentration polarization, fluid dynamics, fouling, surface modification, and protein-surface interactions while working on applications related to health, water, and food; all of which are critical issues to our society and well-being.

Professor Belfort is a true supporter of the membrane community. He was one of the founding members of the North American Membrane Society, and he served as President of the organization from 1995 – 1996. Georges is an active supporter of young membranologists, a consultant and advisor to numerous membrane companies, an instructor for membrane courses, and a long-time advocate for membrane science.

Professor Belfort has received numerous awards and recognitions during his career including being elected to the National Academy of Engineering, being selected as one of the top 100 eminent Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era, the ACS Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, the ACS Separations Award, the AIChE Gerhold Award, and now, the Alan Michaels award from the North American Membrane Society.

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