Our Director's page

Cynthia Friend—July 1, 2013

Director Cynthia Friend

I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the new Director of the Rowland Institute.  The Institute provides a unique opportunity for young scientists to perform independent, high-risk research.  The emphasis on experimental science is unique, inspired by the vision of our founder, Edwin Land, who believed in the value of exploration and invention through hands-on research.  

Dr. Land’s vision is being carried forward by the cadre of our current Fellows who are exploring topics ranging from neurobiology to low temperature condensed matter physics.  The more complete description of the programs of our Fellows on Rowland Institute website is truly an inspiration.  

The Rowland Fellows program has already enjoyed a decade of success as part of Harvard.  We owe a great debt of gratitude to outgoing Director, Frans Spaepen.  Frans has created a wonderful sense of community and has, in conjunction with the Rowland Senior Fellows, mentored the excellent Junior Fellows to promote their success.  Frans has left a great legacy and tradition at the Rowland for which I am personally extremely grateful.

I bring experience and interest in the development of the careers of young scientists through both my experience with my own research group and also through my administrative experiences.  At Harvard I have served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (www.chemistry.harvard.edu), Associate Director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (www.mrsec.harvard.edu), and as Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  I am also past co-principal investigator of the Harvard Research Experiences for Undergraduates program (in which the Rowland Institute participates) that provides research opportunities for undergraduates in science and engineering.

I also remain deeply engaged in research in my laboratory in the Mallinckrodt building on the Harvard campus.  In my research I am focused on fundamental understanding of chemical processes that have the potential for increasing energy efficiency by the usage of renewable resources for production of chemicals (http://www.seas.harvard.edu/friend/).  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.  I am looking forward to reinforcing the strong connections between Harvard scientists and Rowland Fellows that have already developed in the past decade.

Looking ahead, I will be spending the first few months of my term learning more about the scientific directions of the current Rowland Fellows and preparing for the selection process that starts in December.  We will be vigorously searching for Fellows who have great ideas and the drive to do highly innovative independent research.  We live in a time of unprecedented change and opportunity in science, and the Rowland Institute is a place where we can all make a difference.

I am looking forward to building the Institute, which has a promising future ahead.  We are very fortunate to have a great staff and a group of dedicated scientists at the Rowland.  Stay tuned for new developments and updates as my first year proceeds.

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