Chemistry Nobelist to assume ICSU leadership

20 November 2008

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Yuan T. Lee has been elected as the future president of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Following his election to the post at the organization's 29th general assembly in Mozambique last month, Lee will take up the appointment in April 2010 and will succeed current ICSU President Catherine Brechignac in October 2011.

Born in 1936 and educated in Taipei, Lee earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Berkeley in 1965. In 1986 he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for what the ICSU characterizes as "his seminal contribution to the development of reaction dynamics a new field of research in chemistry at the time. His use of crossed molecular beams allowed the study of complex reaction mechanisms beyond the capability of previous methods."

Among his other honors, Lee is or has been a Sloan Fellow, a Dreyfus Scholar, and a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World. He has received, among others, the E.O. Lawrence Award (from the federal Department of Energy) and the National Medal of Science. A former Miller Professor at Berkeley, he was honored with the Academic Senate's Clark Kerr Award for Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education in 1999, and remains a faculty senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In 1994, Lee returned to Taipei, serving as president of the Academica Sinica (Academy of Sciences) there for 12 years.

Said Lee about his election to the ICSU presidency: "As a child I was inspired by Madame Curie, who believed that scientific knowledge belonged to all mankind. It is my strong belief that ICSU will pave the way in ensuring that scientific knowledge is available to all a critical factor in providing the solutions for sustainable development, climate-change mitigation, global human-health issues, and alleviating poverty."