The Miller Institute is pleased to announce the Visiting Miller Professorship awards granted during this year's competition.



Name Home Institution Department
Bernd Abel Leibniz Institute of Surface Modification Chemistry
Uri Banin Hebrew University of Jerusalem Chemistry
Jens Bruning Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
Jean-Michel Coron University Pierre et Marie Curie Mathematics
Stephan Fueglistaler Princeton University Earth & Planetary Science
Jan Koenderink KU Leuven EECS
Manos Mavrikakis University of Wisconsin Chemistry
Natalia Requena Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Plant & Microbial Biology
William Schafer MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology Molecular & Cell Biology
Anne Socquet University of Grenoble - Alpes Earth & Planetary Science
Thomas Surrey Francis Crick Institute Molecular & Cell Biology
Manik Varma Microsoft Research India Astronomy

   (SVMP) - Gabor A. and Judith K. Somorjai Visiting Miller Professorship Award.

Miller Institute Announces the Gabor A. and Judith K. Somorjai

Visting Miller Professorship Award


The Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science is pleased to announce the Gabor A. and Judith K. Somorjai Visiting Miller Professorship Award, established through a major gift to the Institute. The Somorjai's wishes are to support early career visiting scientists for a one-month term in the Miller Institute. Eligible recipients will be selected through the established Visiting Miller Professorship program competition and priority consideration will be granted to visiting scientists within the broad field of chemical sciences.

Gabor Somorjai is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and a Faculty Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He was born in Budapest in 1935 where he survived the tragedy of the Second World War. While attending University in the 1950s he met the young Judith Kaldor, his future wife, with whom he fled abroad after the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian Revolution. He received a PhD in Physical Chemistry at UC Berkeley in 1960 and then moved to New York to work at IBM in Yorktown Heights before returning to Berkeley to begin his academic career in 1964. He received tenure three years later and was appointed Full Professor in 1972. In 2001 he was named University Professor, the highest honor for faculty within the UC System. Professor Somorjai has trained more than 130 PhD students and 200 post-doctoral fellows. He has hosted Visiting Miller Professors Mostafa El-Sayed, Rutger Van Santen, Martin Quack, Ivar Olovsson, David King, John Pendry, Hans Siegmann, John Simons, and Harald Ibach and Miller Fellow Bruce Koel.

Professor Somorjai's research has focused on exploring and understanding catalytic selectivity of transition metal surfaces on the molecular level. His novel approach is to use model systems, presently monodispersed nanoparticles in the 1-10 nm range, to explore hydrocarbon conversion reactions. An important discovery from these studies is that the size and shape of metal nanoparticles control both reaction rates and selectivities. He developed surface-sensitive instruments that have permitted molecular level studies of the catalysts under reaction conditions at high pressures. Before the advent of these applications most catalysts were characterized only before and after the reactions. Somorjai has helped catalytic chemistry in its epoch-making transition from the macroscopic view to molecular-scale analysis.

Many institutions have recognized Somorjai throughout his distinguished career. His first association with the Miller Institute was as a Miller Research Professor in 1978. He became a Member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1979, was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1982 and elected Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1983. He has received Honorary Doctorates from many institutions including the Technical University of Budapest (1989), the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris (1990), the Université Libre de Bruxelles (1992), the Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy (1998), the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm (2000), University of Manchester (2001), ETH Zurich (2003) and Northwestern University (2010). He has received several awards from the American Chemical Society, among them the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry in 1989, the Adamson Award in Surface Chemistry in 1994, and the Priestley Award (the highest honor bestowed an American chemist) in 2008. He received the Van Hippel Award from the Materials Research Society in 1997 and the Langmuir Prize from the American Physical Society in 2007. Together with Gerhard Ertl, he won the prestigious Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1998. He was awarded the National Medal of Science and the Pauling Medal, both in 2002. In 2009 he was awarded the Miller Senior Fellowship Award, and he recently received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences and the Eni Award “New Frontiers of Hydrocarbons Prize,” which promotes the best research and the best scientists in the field of energy.

Nominations for the Somorjai Visiting Miller Professorship award will be accepted during the Fall competition cycle for awards in the following Academic Year. Complete instructions will be made available on the Miller Institute website under the Visiting Professorships tab:



Shana Kelley

Fall 2017


Edward Sargent

Fall 2017


Chuan He

Spring 2017


Sarah Keller

Spring 2016


Christophe Copéret

Fall 2015


Angelos Michaelides

Fall 2013

Nominations for Academic Year 2018-2019 Now Closed

Terms in Academic Year 2018-2019
Deadline for Nominations: September 15, 2017


The Advisory Board of the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science invites Berkeley faculty to submit online nominations for Visiting Miller Research Professorships and the Gabor A. and Judith K. Somorjai Visiting Miller Professorship Award. Applications direct from candidates are not accepted.

The purpose of the Visiting Miller Professorship is to bring promising or eminent scientists to the Berkeley campus on a short-term basis for collaborative research interactions. The purpose of the Somorjai Award is to support the collaborative research of an early-career visiting scientist within the broad field of chemical sciences for a one-month term. Both programs require that awardees are in residence at Berkeley during their appointment term, and it is the department host faculty member’s responsibility to ensure their presence on campus. It is stipulated that the appointee do no formal teaching, however public talks and department colloquia are encouraged. Any absences from the Berkeley campus will result in deductions being made to stipend and living allowance payments. All absences away from the Berkeley campus during the award term must be coordinated with the Miller Institute office in advance.

The Advisory Board of the Institute, which will make the awards, recognizes the problem of ascertaining whether a distinguished scholar would be interested in coming to Berkeley as a Visiting Miller Research Professor. The Board hopes that by indirect inquiry the prospective sponsoring department can determine the likelihood of availability.  The Miller Institute, as the sponsor and administrative department, will extend an invitation after advising the department of its selection. Any questions regarding this program may be directed to the Institute's office by phone at (510) 642-4088 or by emailing the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Faculty members or research scientists from any place in the world are eligible to be considered for sponsorship. Non-US citizens must be eligible for J-1 Scholar visa status. Non-US citizens will be required to prove English language proficiency prior to award. Visitors cannot be supported on H1B or B visas. Faculty members at other UC campuses are eligible to be nominated for this program. All appointments must be approved by the visitor's home campus. University policy does not permit the Visiting Miller Professorship to be counted toward a sabbatical leave. (See Academic Personnel Manual 740-11-h, Regents' Standing Order 103.4.)

Term of Appointment

Terms of appointment may range from a minimum of thirty days to a maximum of one semester (120 days). Full semester appointments are encouraged; however, such nominations should include justification, within the research proposal, of the need for this long-term collaboration. Each appointment starting date will be negotiated separately, with the restriction that appointments must take place during either Fall 2018 or Spring 2019 of the regular academic year. It is not appropriate to request a starting date between semesters or during the summer, and the visit must run in consecutive weeks. When stating a desired starting date, please keep in mind that a minimum lead-time of four months is needed to make J-1 visa and other arrangements for foreign visitors.

The Somorjai Visiting Miller Professor Award term is limited to a 30-day visit and is not to be combined with a regular Visiting Miller Professorship term. All other terms of the Visiting Miller Professorship apply.


The stipend is $6,000 per month plus $150 daily for living expenses while in residence. The Institute will pay for one round trip to and from Berkeley for the appointee, normally up to a maximum of $600 within the U.S. and up to $1,800 for foreign travel, based on advance purchase economy rates.  There is no provision for travel for family members. Federal regulations require medical and repatriation insurances which are provided for our foreign visitors on a J-1 Visa. No provisions are provided for family members. Payment to a faculty member of another UC campus must conform to University and individual campus policies governing additional compensation. The granting of an award is subject to home campus and Berkeley approval of funding arrangements.

Requirements of the Visiting Miller Professorship

Per the Miller and Somorjai bequests, appointees are expected to be on the Berkeley campus for the duration of the Visiting Miller Professorship term. They have no regular teaching duties, although they are encouraged to confer informally with graduate students and faculty, and to speak before seminars on a limited number of occasions. Visiting Miller Professors are invited to campus to engage full time in research with host faculty, host departments, and others. Full time and effort should be devoted to research and collaboration. Proposals to write books during the term will not be viewed competitively. Travel during appointment is not allowed and will result in adjustments to the stipend and living expense payments. Visiting Miller Professors are expected to attend the Institute's weekly Tuesday luncheons at The Faculty Club. The weekly Miller lunches provide a venue for conversing with other Miller Professors, the Miller Research Fellows, and other Institute members. Appointees will submit an End of Term Report to the Miller Institute in timely manner after the conclusion of the term.

Announcement of Awards

Announcement of the awards will be made in December.

Departmental Guide for the Visiting Miller Professorship Online Nominations:

Deadline for Nominations: September 15, 2017, 11:59pm PDT (-7GMT)
(See detailed instructions on Nomination Form online)

Nominations for the Visiting Miller Professorship competition cycle must be made online by Berkeley faculty members. Nominations should be written by the nominator, highlighting the value the Berkeley campus will derive from the potential visit. The online system will not accept incomplete nominations. Direct applications are not accepted. Nominations for the Somorjai Award must include all of the VMP nomination materials unless otherwise noted. Nominators will need the following required information prepared and ready for upload before proceeding to the online nomination:

  • Nominee's Full / Legal name
  • Nominee's active Email Address (notification of award sent to this email address)
  • Nominee's Citizenship
  • Nominee's Professional Title and Current Institution
  • Nominee's current and complete Mailing Address
  • UCB Primary Nominating Academic Department
  • UCB Primary Host Department Chair Name & Chair Email Address
  • If other UC faculty: Nominee's home department chair name, email address and mailing address
  • Faculty Host Name, Email Address & Campus Phone Number
  • Preferred Semester and Number of Visit Days
  • Will the Visiting Scholar be at UCB before or after the proposed term? Dates? Departments?
  • List of all visits to UC Berkeley within the past two years.
  • Departmental Research Proposal - limit 2 pages, 11 point font or larger
  • Nominations for the Somorjai Visiting Miller Professorship Award must be indicated by selecting the corresponding checkbox located on the Nomination Form.
  • Abbreviated Publications: List 10 most representative publications AND all publications in the last 3 years.
  • Curriculum Vitae - do not include comprehensive publications list
  • The terms of the Departmental Host Faculty Confirmation Form must be accepted by selecting the corresponding checkbox located on the Nomination Form.
  • Additional Support letters are very important during the review and selection process. The Executive Committee needs to be persuaded of the value your candidate will bring to the department and campus. (Do NOT include Chair Letters here. Chairs will be contacted directly.) Collect and combine all letters of support into one PDF for uploading into nomination.

The Departmental Research Proposal (prepared by nominator)

The research proposal is the primary department host's opportunity to persuade the Institute's Advisory Board of the value the candidate will bring to the department and campus. These nominations should not be perfunctory; the Institute has to be convinced that the nominee is strong and the proposal to bring the individual here is well considered.

Nominations should be prepared from the nominator's point of view and highlight the value the visitor will bring to the department. Proposals from nominees are not acceptable.

The Miller Institute is "dedicated to the encouragement of creative thought and the conduct of research and investigation in the field of pure science ... and investigation in the field of applied science in so far as such research and investigation are deemed by the Advisory Board to offer a promising approach to fundamental problems." Candidate research supported across departments is strongly encouraged. Research proposals meeting these guidelines must not exceed two single-spaced 8-1/2 x 11-inch pages and be in 11 point or larger font. Nominations for a full semester appointment must show adequate justification for such a term.

The Somorjai Award

For consideration for the Somorjai Award, please indicate by selecting the corresponding checkbox located on the Visiting Professorship Nomination Form.

Department Chair Review

After the nomination deadline, Department Chairs will be solicited by the Miller Institute to review online all nominations submitted in their departments. In order to complete the departmental nomination process, the Chair will be required to upload a letter that 1) provides judgment of each research proposal 2) ranks the nominations if two or more nominations are submitted and explains the basis for the rankings, and 3) assures the Institute that departmental space, facilities and research support for the appointee will be available.

Nominations for Academic Year 2018-2019 Now Closed

Deadline for Nominations: Friday, September 15, 2017


If you encounter problems with the online system, please contact the webmaster at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Program or nomination questions can be directed to Kathryn Day by phone at 642-4088 or by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.