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Alice Gast: The first woman and non-Briton to become the President of Imperial College London

November 3, 2014


Alice Petry Gast born on May 25, 1958 is the 16th President of Imperial College London in London, United Kingdom. She became Imperial's president on 1 September 2014. An internationally renowned scholar, researcher and academic leader, Gast was named one of the top 100 “Modern Era” engineers in the country under the category of “Leadership” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Gast graduated as valedictorian from the University of Southern California in 1980 with a B.Sc. in chemical engineering. She completed her postgraduatework at Princeton University, receiving a M.A. (1981) and Ph.D. (1984) in chemical engineering, with thesis titled A Study of Polymer-Induced Phase Transitions in Colloidal Suspensions and was a Hertz Fellow. She spent a postdoctoral year completing a NATO fellowship at the École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles in Paris. From 1985 to 2001 she taught at Stanford University, and then moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she served as the Vice President for Research and AssociateProvost until her appointment to Lehigh in 2006. Professor Gast was named President of Imperial College London on 3 January 2014, taking up post on 1 September 2014. She succeeded Keith O'Nions. As President Professor Gast leads the College’s strategy, including the development of its new 25 acre campus, Imperial West, and its links to government, industry, philanthropists and alumni. In April 2012 Imperial's governing Council agreed to separate into two the role of the Rector (the head of the university), and create the senior positions of President and Provost. The role of President gives emphasis to Imperial's relationships with government, industry, philanthropists and alumni and enhances the College's ability to influence in the UK and overseas. The Provost is responsible for delivering and enhancing the College's academic mission in education, research and the translation of research results into practical outcomes. The President and Provost model is common at many other world-leading universities, including MIT, Caltech, Yale and Harvard. When the transition to the new model and the search for its new senior positions began in 2012, the title changed to President & Rector. Now that the Provost has been appointed and the transition is complete, Professor Gast is known as President. In recognition of her achievements, Gast has received numerous awards and honors including the NAS Award for Initiatives in Research, the Colburn Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2001 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002. She was named an AAAS Fellow in early 2007. In October, 2008, Gast was named one of the top 100 "Modern Era" engineers in the country, under the category of "Leadership" by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

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