With sadness but deep admiration, we report the passing of John Ross Grace in Vancouver on May 26, 2021, after a long struggle with Multiple System Atrophy. In spite of the pandemic and vast size of this country, John was surrounded by family, colleagues and friends who connected with him in-person and virtually over the past 1 ½ years. His wife of 58 years, Dr. Sherrill E. Grace, OC, was a constant and loving companion.
John was the fourth child of the late Dr. Archibald and Mary Grace of London, ON. He is survived by Sherrill, children Elizabeth Grace (Susan Vella) and Maj Malcolm Grace, grandchild David Vella Grace, and siblings (Bob, Michael, Noelle, Mary, Archie, Gillian and Duncan).
John was born and raised in London, and after attending Ridley College, earned an Engineering degree at the University of Western Ontario, finishing first in his class. In 1965, he began a PhD program in Chemical Engineering at Cambridge University, and he enjoyed rowing for King’s College in the famous bumps on the River Cam.
After earning his PhD in 1968, John was a Professor at McGill University where he initiated major research activities related to fluidization and multiphase systems. He co-authored Bubbles, Drops and Particles (1978), a book with over 10,000 citations and a leading reference source for two-phase flow. In 1979, he joined the University of British Columbia to be Head of Chemical Engineering. There, he was instrumental in procuring a Pulp and Paper building and initiating the Michael Smith Laboratory. From 1990-96, he served as UBC’s Dean of Graduate Studies and oversaw the planning of two graduate colleges (Green and St. John’s Colleges) and new interdisciplinary units, including the Fisheries Centre, Centre for Women’s Studies and Gender Relations, Occupational Hygiene Program, Sustainable Development Research Institute and Centre for Applied Ethics, and centres within the Institute of Asian Research.
From 2001 until his retirement in 2014, John was a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Clean Energy Processes at UBC. He was a world-leading expert in fluidization, capture of CO2 and reactor design. He authored more than 700 publications, including the comprehensive Essentials of Fluidization Technology textbook published in 2020. He worked closely with industry, helping to improve the internal configuration of the world’s largest fluid cokers operated by Syncrude at Fort McMurray, resulting in cleaner operation and fewer shutdowns. He was founding President of start-up company, Membrane Reactor Technologies, which pioneered the use of fluidized bed reactors containing perm-selective palladium membranes for pure hydrogen generation.
John contributed greatly to the practice and coordination of engineering and science in Canada, serving on numerous boards, societies and committees, including as chair of the panel of the Council of Canadian Academies that investigated the role of gas hydrates in meeting Canada’s future energy needs, and being a founder and Director of Carbon Management Canada.
John won UBC awards for teaching, mentoring and research, and with the proceeds from one such award, endowed a mentoring award for graduate students. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canadian Academy of Engineering, Engineering Institute of Canada and Chemical Institute of Canada. He won prestigious awards from engineering societies in Canada, the US and UK in recognition of his research contributions. He was the inaugural winner of the Hall of Fame Award from the UBC Chemical and Biological Engineering Department in 2021. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013.
In his spare time, John loved opera, classical music, modern Canadian art, serious films, puns and canoeing with Sherrill. Some of his fondest memories were of a summer spent in Africa in the 1960s constructing a school, and later the building of a cabin in BC’s Cariboo region.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the “John Grace Graduate Scholarship in Chemical and Biological Engineering”, endowed in 2009 by Sherrill in his honour: www.give.ubc.ca/memorial/dr-john-grace/.
Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Dr John R Grace OC 1943 2021..
Death notice for the town of: Vancouver, Province: Colombie britanique