A prolific researcher in optical materials and nanoscale assembly is the first faculty member appointed under a new strategic hiring initiative at the Case School of Engineering.
Roger French, a longtime scientist at DuPont, chose to leave industry for Case Western Reserve because of the rich opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration he sees on the campus.
“This is an opportunity to accomplish things that are bigger than just what I can accomplish myself,” French said.
This desire to work with others to achieve major research breakthroughs was one of the first qualities that moved leaders of the hiring effort to make French its first recruit. The initiative, a collaborative effort between the school and central university administration, seeks to enhance dramatically the school’s stature, diversity and research impact.
“The new faculty will bring the current faculty–not only from the school of engineering but other schools–to clusters with common themes,” said Distinguished University Professor Hunter Peckham, the leader of the search effort. “In the clusters, they can all share their expertise in fields that are critical to the overall strategy of the university: human health, energy and advanced materials.”
French comes to the university after spending a quarter century at DuPont in positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as a Research Fellow. There he gained extensive experience commercializing discoveries. Since 1996, he also had served as an adjunct professor at University of Pennsylvania, where he’s mentored graduate and postdoctoral researchers.
He has been appointed the F. Alex Nason professor of materials science and engineering.
French said he came to Case Western Reserve to join the expanding interdisciplinary research teams focused on new materials and energy.
“During an informal visit earlier this year, I could see the interactive nature and the good collaborative environment and the low departmental barriers here,” he said. “And they were creating institutes, which further lowers the barriers.”
Under the hiring initiative, Case Western Reserve is seeking senior, mid-level and junior faculty who are proven leaders in interdisciplinary research.
The university also is making diversity a priority in this effort, to increase the proportion of women and underrepresented minorities among the engineering faculty.