Cynthia Friend named director of the Rowland Institute

Chemist and materials scientist brings extensive leadership experience to the role

Cynthia Friend, Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science, has been named director of the Rowland Institute.

Cambridge, Mass. - June 19, 2013 - Cynthia Friend, Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has been named as the next director of the Rowland Institute at Harvard.

Friend brings extensive leadership experience to the directorship, having previously served as Associate Director of the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Associate Laboratory Director for Photon Science at the SLAC Linear Accelerator Center.

As director of the Rowland Institute, Friend will work closely with both Cherry A. Murray, Dean of SEAS, and Jeremy Bloxham, Dean of Science in FAS, to ensure the Rowland's continued success as a forum for scientific exploration, creativity, and innovation.

In 2009, Friend was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Chemical Society. She has received recognition for her research in chemical approaches to reducing energy usage from numerous academic societies and institutions, including the Olah Award for Hydrocarbon Chemistry. Friend received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1981 and joined the Harvard faculty in 1982. She was appointed as associate professor in 1986, and became a full professor in 1989.

"Cynthia brings to the directorship of the Rowland exceptional understanding of interdisciplinary scientific research and a pragmatic, open, and thoughtful style that has enabled her to effectively manage across constituencies," said Michael D. Smith, Dean of FAS. "I am deeply grateful that Cynthia has agreed to take on another leadership role in service to the University."

"I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the new Director of the Rowland Institute," said Friend. "The Institute provides a unique opportunity for young scientists to perform independent, high-risk research."

Friend will continue to conduct research on "green" chemistry and chemical processes that can improve the efficiency of renewable energy technologies, in the Mallinckrodt Laboratory in Cambridge.

"While my research program will remain on the main Harvard campus, the interdisciplinary nature of my research program provides me with a broad perspective that is in the spirit of the Rowland," she said. "I am looking forward to reinforcing the strong connections between Harvard scientists and Rowland Fellows that have already developed in the past decade."

Frans Spaepen, John C. and Helen F. Franklin Professor of Applied Physics at SEAS, is stepping down as director of the Rowland Institute, a role to which he has dedicated himself for the past decade.

"Under his direction, the Rowland has become world-renowned for the caliber of its fellows program," said Dean Smith. "I imagine I speak for many of us when I say that without his vision and commitment, the Rowland would not be what it is today."

Friend's term begins on July 1, 2013, for an initial 5-year period.

About the Rowland Institute

The Rowland Institute at Harvard was originally founded by the late Edwin H. Land in 1980 as The Rowland Institute for Science, a privately endowed, nonprofit, basic research organization, conceived to advance science in a wide variety of fields. The Rowland Junior Fellows Program lies at the heart of the Institute: A program dedicated to experimental science over a broad range of disciplines for young investigators. Current research is carried out in physics, chemistry, biophysics, and biology, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary work and the development of new experimental tools. The Institute is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts near the Longfellow Bridge over the Charles River, a few miles downstream from the main campus.


Caroline Perry, (617) 496-1351

Topics: Environment, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Bioengineering, Applied Physics, Applied Mathematics