Garnet Chan: a theoretical chemist

22 May 2015

Garnet Chan is the A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University, New Jersey and a multi-award winning theoretical chemist in the field of quantum mechanics, the body of scientific principles that explain the behaviour of matter and its interactions with energy on the scale of atoms and subatomic particles.

Chan is the recipient of the Todd-Croucher Fellowship, an award endowed by the Croucher Foundation at Christ’s College, Cambridge in recognition of the contribution of Alexander Todd, Lord Todd of Trumpington. With the support of the Todd-Croucher Fellowship, Chan completed his PhD in theoretical chemistry under the direction of supervisor, Nicholas Handy.

The Todd-Croucher Fellowship granted Chan the learning independence and flexibility to explore different directions in quantum chemistry. Chan fondly recalls and credits the freedom that the Croucher Fellowship gave him as a young academic, enabling him to grow into a well-rounded scientist. “Independence and learning independence is one of the most important skills as a scientist – you start out making a lot of mistakes, but in the long run, it’s a good thing.” Chan was able to split the four years of his Croucher Fellowship at Christ’s College, Cambridge, undertaking a Miller Fellowship at UC Berkeley in the interim period.

Since starting his independent research position at Cornell University in 2004, Chan has led a research group which currently consists of nineteen theoretical chemists dedicated to the discovery of theoretical tools to answer central questions of chemistry and physics today.

Garnet Chan received his B.A. (1996), M, A, (2000), and Ph. D. (2000) from the University of Cambridge. He was a Todd-Croucher Junior Research Fellow (1998-2004) at Christ’s College, Cambridge and a Miller Research Fellow (2000-2002) at the University of California, Berkeley. He was on the faculty of Cornell University as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (2004-2010), and Associate Professor of Chemistry of Chemical Biology (2010-2012), before taking up his current position as the A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at Princeton University (2012-). Among his many awards he has received the Pure Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society, and the William O. Baker Award from the National Academy of Sciences.