Pioneering researcher and renowned teacher Alice Gast became the first female president of Lehigh University on Aug. 1, 2006.
Beginning with her work at Princeton on phase transitions in colloids, Gast became a leader in the study of complex fluids, an area of major importance to biotechnology, nanotechnology and materials science. She completed her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Princeton as a Hertz Foundation Fellow, advised by William Russel, now the Arthur Marks ’19 Professor of Chemical Engineering and dean of the Graduate School, and Carol Hall, now at North Carolina State University.
“As a graduate student, Alice became engrossed in the physics of polymers and colloids, completing work with Carol Hall and myself that easily ranks as my most frequently cited paper,” Russel said. “Alice naturally emerged as a leader in the profession through clear and strategic thinking, foresight, an organized style and charismatic expression of her ideas. The values she articulates for Lehigh with respect to integration of education with research, with synergy between undergraduate and graduate programs, coincide nicely with Princeton’s ideals. I think she has a wonderful future ahead.”
Gast assumed the Lehigh presidency after nearly five years as vice president for research and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 16 years as a chemical engineering professor at Stanford University.
Her numerous honors and awards include election earlier this year to the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was previously elected to the National Academy of Engineering and named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 1993 to 2000, she served as a member of the Leadership Council for Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.