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Chemist Charles M. Lieber Named University Professor

Professor Charles Lieber with his winning pumpkin.
Professor Charles Lieber with his winning pumpkin.
By Kenton K. Shimozaki, Crimson Staff Writer

Chemistry professor Charles M. Lieber—a pioneer in the field of nanotechnology—was named the first Joshua and Beth Friedman University Professor, Harvard’s highest faculty rank, the University announced on Thursday. His position is effective July 1.

Lieber has made numerous advances in the field of nanoscale bio-electronics, developing nanoscale wire-like structures with applications in fields as diverse as electronics, nanocomputing, neurobiology, and medicine. He created a new type of electrical implant, called syringe-injectable mesh nanoelectronics, that enables the implant’s interface to function like sensors in the brain.

In an interview with the University-run Harvard Gazette, University President Drew G. Faust said Lieber is “an extraordinary scientist whose work has transformed nanoscience and nanotechnology and has led to a remarkable range of valuable applications that improve the quality of people’s lives.”

A professor at Harvard since 1991, he was appointed Chemistry and Chemical Biology department chair in 2015. He also holds a joint appointment with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He has won several awards for his research, including the Von Hippel Award, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, and the National Institute of Health’s Pioneer Award.

He received his bachelor's degree at Franklin and Marshall College and his Ph.D. at Stanford University. Lieber also taught at Columbia University before coming to Harvard. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The University Professorship was established by Joshua S. Friedman ’76, a co-founder of hedge fund Canyon Partners, and philanthropist Beth C. Friedman. Joshua Friedman also serves on the Harvard Management Company board of directors—the 11-member body that oversees the investment of the University’s $35.7 billion endowment.

Faculty are designated University Professors in recognition of significant academic accomplishment.

University Professor Charles M. Lieber, pictured in 2014 with his prize-winning pumpkin.
University Professor Charles M. Lieber, pictured in 2014 with his prize-winning pumpkin. By Courtesy of Jennifer Lieber

With Lieber’s appointment, 26 faculty members currently hold University professorships including former Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers, African American studies intellectual Henry Louis Gates Jr., constitutional law scholar Laurence H. Tribe ’62, and political theorist Danielle S. Allen.

The renowned chemistry scholar’s newest accolade, however, is only one of his many accomplishments. In 2014, Lieber grew the biggest pumpkin in Massachusetts at a prize-winning 1870 pounds.

Lieber was not immediately available for comment.

—Staff writer Kenton K. Shimozaki can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @KentonShimozaki.

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