Alice P. Gast is the 13th – and first female – President of Lehigh University.

A Career in Academia

Before coming to Lehigh, Gast served at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the vice president for research and associate provost and held the Robert T. Haslam chair in Chemical Engineering. Prior to moving to MIT in 2001, she spent 16 years as a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University and at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory. Gast holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Southern California, where she was the valedictorian of her graduating class. Gast also holds a Master's degree and a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University. After earning her Ph.D., Gast spent a postdoctoral year on a NATO fellowship at the École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles in Paris.


Gast's primary area of research is in complex fluids, studying surface and interfacial phenomena. She is the co-author of Physical Chemistry of Surfaces, a classic textbook on colloid and surface phenomena, and has presented lectures at several of the nation's leading research institutions.

In addition to her academic posts, Gast has served on committees including the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and is a member of the Academic Research Council for the Singapore Ministry of Education and the National Research Council Committee for Science, Technology, and the Law. She is a member of the the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the American Physical Society.


In recognition of her achievements, Gast has garnered numerous awards and honors including the National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiative 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 AAAS Fellow in early 2007.

In October, 2008, Gast was one of 100 "Modern Era" chemical engineers recognized by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (in honor of its centennial celebration) as having helped to shape the profession of chemical engineering since WWII. Gast is being honored not only for her work in colloid and surface phenomena, but for her leadership both at Lehigh and MIT.

Thursday, May 1, 1958
Houston, Texas
Notable Achievement: 
A world-renowned scholar and the 13th President of Lehigh University, member of the NAE