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Chemical engineering paper receives ‘Most Cited Author’ award

Galen Suppes, a chemical engineering professor, learned recently that a paper published by him and his research team was recognized by a prominent chemistry journal as its most cited paper from 2004 through 2008.

Story by: Jashin Lin

In 2004, Galen Suppes, chemical engineering professor at the University of Missouri, and his team published a paper in Applied Catalysis A, a prominent chemistry journal. The paper’s title, “Transesterification of soybean oil with zeolite and metal catalysts”, might not be a phrase to set one’s imagination on fire, but the paper itself has inspired – or more importantly, been cited by – enough subsequent papers that it won the journal’s General Most Cited Author award for 2004-2008.

“The frequency of citing a professor’s work is one of the main criterion in promotion and tenure, and the receipt of this award is a high compliment,” Suppes said.

The paper’s subject is the improvement of biodiesel production.

“One problem with the most common approach to making biodiesel is that the catalyst used to promote the reaction can only be used once and ends up as a waste at the end of the processing,” said Suppes. ” This paper was one of the first papers to evaluate and make progress on a reusable catalyst.  These catalysts would reduce waste and save money.”

Suppes and his team published the paper at a time when interest in reusable catalysts was just beginning. Since then, larger numbers of researchers writing their own papers would cite existing literature on the topic, including Suppes’ paper, hence the award.

As for more material impact, Suppes doesn’t consider the value of his paper transferable to the commercial sector just yet.

“The value is that it provided good direction for continued and future research that may become commercially viable,” Suppes said.



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