Posted on 5 January 2018
Professor Gai studies dynamic atomic processes in reacting solids during chemical reactions. Her many research highlights include the development of new nanomaterials and chemical processes for use in a range of high technology applications, including catalysis, energy, healthcare, chemicals and food coatings, and novel dynamic electron microscopies.
She is a pioneer in advanced electron microscopy to analyse dynamic gas-catalyst reactions on the atomic scale. They are at the heart of industrial processes for producing chemicals, energy, as well as many industrial and healthcare products, and for pollution control. Her chemical process and electron microscopy inventions are used worldwide.
She is a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng). She was awarded the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Award as the 2013 Laureate for Europe, and the 2010 Gabor medal and prize of the Institute of Physics, among other awards. Prior to her York assignments she held positions in the USA and at the University of Oxford after a PhD in Physics from the University of Cambridge.
Professor Gai said: “I am truly humbled to receive this national honour and delighted that the research has received this wonderful recognition.
“This honour belongs to all the outstanding co-researchers and staff I have collaborated with. I am grateful to them and my main funders the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).”
The University of York’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Koen Lamberts, said: “Pratibha is an outstanding academic who has contributed hugely to chemical sciences and technology over many years.
“She is an inspirational leader in her field and this honour is a wonderful acknowledgement of the impact her research has made in the world.”
Professor Deborah Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, added: “Professor Gai has pushed the boundaries of scientific research using electron microscopy.
“Her work has impact across a range of industries and has been recognised through numerous awards.
“This national honour is thoroughly deserved and highlights the significance of research in this field.”
Professor Kieran Gibson, Head of the Department of Physics, said: “This is a richly deserved award for Pratibha, that recognises her sustained level of international excellence in studying matter at the scale of individual atoms.
“It is testament to all her work in developing novel ways of imaging the nanoscale in real time, which has huge impact across the fields of chemistry, physics and beyond.”
Professor Duncan Bruce, Head of the Department of Chemistry, said: “For many years, Pratibha has pioneered the technique of using electron microscopy to ‘see’ chemical reactions at individual atoms on a solid surface, which is a remarkable achievement.
“She has been recognised by her peers in her election as a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Academy of Engineers, and now I am delighted to see that she has been recognised by this public honour.”