Celebrating the Life of Dr. John Grace

27 May 2021

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Professor John Ross Grace on 26 May 2021.

A beloved friend and mentor to all in our engineering community, John was a professor emeritus in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CHBE) at UBC.  He served as Head of CHBE (then known as Chemical Engineering) from 1979 to 1987, and later as Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies (formerly Graduate Studies) from 1990 to 1996.

John Grace was born in London, Ontario in 1943.  He graduated with a B.E.Sc. (1965) from Western University (formerly the University of Western Ontario), and a PhD from Cambridge University, England, in 1968.  In addition to those degrees, in 2003 John was awarded an honorary doctorate from Western University.  For the first 11 years of his distinguished academic career, John was a faculty member in the Chemical Engineering Department at McGill University.  In 1979 he then joined the UBC CHBE department as its Head.

Among the many prestigious honors he received, Professor Grace was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2014. The citation on his Order of Canada investiture reads:

For his contributions as a chemical engineer, notably to the development of cleaner technology for industrial processes and energy production.  John Grace has crafted new ways to produce energy with a smaller environmental footprint. A Canada Research Chair and professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia, he is one of the world’s leading authorities on fluidization, the process by which solid particles are converted to a dynamic state. His research and publications have led to significant advances in the field, including the development of more efficient reactors to produce electrical power, fuels and steam while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Grace was a beloved colleague, friend and mentor to many. He will be greatly missed by his family, current and former scholars, staff, and students in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and elsewhere at UBC, and by countless friends and colleagues around the world.

For those wishing to donate in honor of his memory, the Grace family has asked that in lieu of flowers or other gifts a donation be made to the John Grace Graduate Scholarship in Chemical and Biological Engineering, which has been endowed in honor of Dr. John Grace by his wife, Dr. Sherrill E. Grace, for graduate students in Chemical and Biological Engineering who demonstrate academic excellence and potential for service to society by performing research on energy, the environment, and/or multi-phase systems.  Financial donations to support this scholarship in John’s name can be made at www.give.ubc.ca/memorial/dr-john-grace.

In early 2021, the department recognized Professor Grace as the inaugural inductee into its Chemical and Biological Engineering (CHBE) Hall of Fame, which celebrates members of our community who have made exceptional lasting contributions to society, the university and the department through their engineering scholarship.  A Hall of Fame plaque describing John and his career is now displayed in the atrium of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Building.  The induction ceremony was recorded and can be viewed, along with a complete description of the award, at https://www.chbe.ubc.ca/our-people/chbe-hall-of-fame/.  In that recorded presentation, many photos of John may be found, along with reflections by friends and colleagues on his distinguished career.

Please contact us by email at info@chbe.ubc.ca for further information you may require.  Contributions of stories, photos or videos for inclusion in a keepsake being prepared by the department can be sent to info@chbe.ubc.ca.  Words cannot express the depth of our sadness and the enormous void we are feeling, but above all else, our hearts pour out to the Grace family, who have requested privacy today and over the coming week.