Joe W. Hightower
Following a BS in chemistry/math/physics at Harding College in Arkansas, Joe received his PhD in physical chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 1963 under the skilled tutelage of Paul H. Emmett. Next came an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Belfast, Northern Ireland with Charles Kemball, followed by 3 years as a Research Fellow on the Gulf Petroleum Fellowship at Mellon Institute with W. Keith Hall. Beginning in 1967 he spent 34 years in the Chemical Engineering Department at Rice University where his research in catalysis built on techniques learned from his mentors Emmett, Kemball, and Hall. During his academic career Joe chaired the department for a few years and has participated in more than 100 industrial short courses on catalysis through both Rice and the University of Houston. He has developed a comprehensive catalysis laboratory experiment involving isotopic tracers in kinetic studies and BET surface area measurements that is used with all graduate and undergraduate chemical engineering students at Rice.
Service to the catalysis community has formed his primary contribution to the field. Joe chaired the ACS Petroleum Research Fund for a decade, was chair of the Gordon Research Conferences Board of Trustees, edited the Proceedings from three International Congresses on Catalysis, was chair/co-chair of the 1996 and 2006 Regional ACS Meetings, helped found (with Jack Lunsford, Jim Richardson, et al.) The Southwest Catalysis Society, was co-chair of the second and tenth North American Meetings of The Catalysis Society held in Houston, and is the Senior ACS Councilor from Houston where he is currently an elected member of the Council Policy Committee. Joe recently took on the job of Secretary-Treasurer of the SW Regional ACS Meetings, having served as chair/co-chair of '96 and '06 meetings in Houston.
Joe was the recipient of the national ACS Award in Petroleum Chemistry in 1973 and had a "day" proclaimed in his honor by the Mayor of Houston this spring. If he were asked what has been his favorite service, Joe would undoubtedly name the benevolent Hospitality Apartments ministry he co-founded and has served as its president for 38 years. This unique, 100% volunteer ministry provides free housing and compassionate friendship for families in need who have come to Houston for treatment in the Texas Medical Center hospitals. More than 5,700 families from all around the world have been served by the 42 furnished apartments. A $4 million relocation and expansion will be completed this fall.