After 40 years at UC Berkeley, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos will be returning to his alma mater, the University of Chicago, or UChicago, as its next president.
Alivisatos, who also serves as the Samsung Distinguished Professor in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research in the campus department of chemistry, will enter his role at UChicago on Sept. 1. He was elected president by the board after “an extensive international search” and a unanimous recommendation from the Trustee Search Committee, according to a letter from Joseph Neubauer, chair of UChicago’s Board of Trustees.
“Throughout his distinguished academic career, Paul has demonstrated the skills and imagination needed to be an inspirational leader, confront the challenges of our time, and guide the University of Chicago during a period of enormous opportunity,” Neubauer said in the letter.
During his years at UC Berkeley, Alivisatos directed the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, or Berkeley Lab, for seven years, where he led research on areas including renewable energy and climate change. He is also the founding director of the Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute, a team of campus and Berkeley Lab scientists researching energy conversion, utilization and efficiency.
Alivisatos has spent 33 years as campus faculty, where he pioneered “groundbreaking contributions” in nanomaterials that are widely used in biomedicine and consumer electronics, according to a Berkeley News article. He has also mentored more than 200 undergraduates, Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars, according to Negest Williams, program manager for Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute.
“Working with Paul has been the most rewarding experience of my career,” Williams said in an email. “He values independent thinking, and provides an inclusive and supportive environment for everyone to thrive and succeed.”
Alivisatos arrived at UC Berkeley in 1981 as a graduate student after receiving a bachelor’s degree with honors in chemistry from UChicago. He then became UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for research in 2016 and was appointed to executive vice chancellor and provost — UC Berkeley’s “No.2 leadership position” — in 2017, according to the Berkeley News article.
Additionally, Alivisatos is the founder of two prominent nanotechnology companies: Nanosys Inc. and Quantum Dot Corporation, which is now part of Life Technologies. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the National Medal of Science, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry and the Priestley Medal. Last week, Alivisatos shared the prestigious Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award with Michael Grätzel, a Swiss researcher.
“There’s only one place I could leave Berkeley for, and that is the University of Chicago,” Alivisatos said in his video greeting to the UChicago community. “I start in this role with a deep sense of reverence and a lot of excitement about the comprehensive breadth and excellence that I see all across the University of Chicago.”