Distinguished Alumni Award – Engineering

Against complex challenges in chemistry, Dr. Richard D. Noble has devoted his career to pursuing knowledge, driving research, and finding solutions that benefit society.

Dr. Noble is the Alfred T. and Betty E. Look Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he was named Inventor of the Year in 2008. Additionally, he is the founder and co-director of the university’s Center for Membrane Applied Science and Technology (MAST), the only block-funded center of its kind in the United States. There, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, Dr. Noble researches membrane-based separations in order to solve problems such as the removal of toxic compounds from air and water. Under his guidance, MAST has completed almost 100 projects that have benefitted the petrochemical, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, water treatment and other industries. During the quarter-century MAST has been in operation, Dr. Noble has helped almost four dozen students earn doctoral degrees.

Prior to Colorado, Dr. Noble taught at the University of Wyoming and served on the National Bureau of Standards from 1981 to 1987. He has produced 81 patents and applications, 340 research publications, 11 textbooks, and over 12,000 academic citations.

He is active in the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), in addition to serving on the editorial boards of several separations-related technical journals. From 2009 to 2012 he was a fellow with the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, and in 2009 he was named as the first ACS Division of Industrial & Engineering Research Fellow for his substantial and innovative contributions to separations science and technology. Dr. Noble is the only chemical engineer to be recognized with separate AIChE Institute Awards for research (2010) and service (2005).

Among many awards, Dr. Noble has received the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Engineering Education Excellence Award (2013), the ACS National Award in Separation Science and Technology (2015), and the Chair d’Excellence Pierre de Fermat from Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France (2010).

At Castle Point, Dr. Noble played varsity baseball and was a brother in Pi Lambda Phi, serving as the fraternity’s athletic chairman and pledge trainer. A scholarship recipient, he was also a member of the Varsity S Club, the Newman Club, and Tau Beta Pi, of which he served as corresponding secretary.

Dr. Noble earned his PhD from the University of California, Davis, in 1976. Outside of his profession, he has volunteered his time and resources with the non-profit Voices for Children, helping to stop neglect and abuse and finding safer homes for children.