Professor Jean M.J. FréchetProfessor Jean M.J. Fréchet

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)
Vice President of Research

Professor Jean Fréchet, an accomplished chemist and researcher, is vice president for research at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. He assumed his duties in June 2010.

Fréchet joined KAUST after 14 years at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was the Henry Rapoport chair of organic chemistry and professor of chemical engineering. While at Berkeley, he also served as a principal investigator in the Materials Science Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and as the scientific director of the Organic and Macromolecular Facility for the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In his role at KAUST, Fréchet is a leader in developing strategies and managing resources to support interdisciplinary, collaborative research bridging science and engineering. Fréchet is tasked with helping KAUST realize its vision of becoming a globally renowned research university with an entrepreneurial culture through the management of research resources and the facilitation of scientific achievement and technological innovation.

Fréchet oversees the University’s Core Laboratories and interdisciplinary Research Centers, ensuring that both researchers and staff members conduct collaborative research in various areas of science and engineering at the highest scientific standards. He plays a key role in fostering an enabling environment for interdisciplinary education and research that leverages the theme-focused projects in the Research Centers and the capabilities in the academic divisions’ core disciplines of science and engineering. By leading efforts to realize synergies arising from the University’s matrix structure, Fréchet develops strategies to place KAUST at the forefront of innovation and enterprise.

A polymer chemist best known for his contributions in a wide range of fields, including modern electronics and biotechnology, Fréchet has authored more than 800 scientific papers with more than 95,000 citations as well as 100 U.S. and international patents. Fréchet developed the chemically amplified photoresists used in the fabrication of microprocessors and memory chips that are ubiquitous in today’s consumer goods. Other notable achievements include the development of novel separation media and polymers for therapeutic uses and his long service as an editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Born in France, Fréchet received his first university degree at the Institut de Chimie et Physique Industrielles (now CPE in Lyon, France) before moving to the United States for graduate studies in organic and polymer chemistry at Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He joined the chemistry faculty at the University of Ottawa in Canada in 1973 and remained there until 1987, when he became IBM professor of polymer chemistry at Cornell University in the United States. In 1995, he was named the Peter J. Debye chair of chemistry at Cornell.

His numerous awards and honors include the Japan Prize and multiple recognitions from the American Chemical Society, including the Arthur C. Cope Award, and awards in polymer chemistry and applied polymer science.

Fréchet is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Science, the U.S. National Academy of Inventors and the Academy of Europe.