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NAE Member, Distinguished Research Professor NY Chen Passes Away

Monday, April 3, 2017

Nai Yuen Chen, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and a distinguished research professor in The University of Texas at Arlington’s Materials Science and Engineering Department, passed away March 30 at the age of 91.

A funeral service will be held on Friday, April 7, at 2 p.m. at the Moore Funeral Home, 1219 N. Davis Dr., Arlington, TX  76012.  A reception will be held from 4-6 p.m. at the University Club in UTA's Davis Hall (lower level).

Nai Yuen ChenNai Yuen Chen was born in China on January 6, 1926, to pioneering microbiologist Tao Sheng Chen and his wife, Tong Tze Lin. After earning a bachelor of science degree from the University of Shanghai, he worked at the Taiwan Sugar Corporation from 1947-52. He came to the U.S. in 1952 and earned a master's degree in chemical engineering from Louisiana State University in 1954. He completed his doctorate in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959, and married Margaret Ren-Sun Chien that same year. 

Chen worked as a research associate at MIT for one year before joining Mobil Oil Corporation in 1960. He rose through the ranks to senior scientist and manager by 1979 and retired from Mobil in 1993, though he continued as a technical consultant until 2007. He was a visiting professor with the National University of Singapore in 1993 and a distinguished research professor at UTA since 2011. 

Chen was the inventor or co-inventor on 126 U.S. patents for novel catalysts, oil refining, and petrochemical and biomass processes. He also authored or co-authored 73 papers in technical journals, two technical books, and eight book chapters. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1990 for his discovery of commercially important shape-selective catalytic processes for producing premium fuels and lubricants. 

His daughter, Victoria Chen, is a professor in UTA’s Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering Department.