“The international impact and, hence, recognition have been impressive, making it one of the most distinguished and sought after fellowship programs in the world.”
– Website description of the Lady Davis Fellowship Trust
Already well-respected and established in his role as Professor and Chair of the Mount’s Department of Chemistry and Physics, Dr. Chérif F. Matta now finds himself preparing for an incredible academic opportunity after being awarded the highly regarded Lady Davis Fellowship.
Established in 1973, the Fellowship provides an opportunity for Visiting Professors, Post-Doctoral Researchers and Doctoral Students from abroad to teach, study and participate in research in Israel at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa.
“During a visit to the Weizmann Institute in Israel, where I was hosted by Nobel Prize winner Professor Ada Yonath, I connected with a scientist I have known for over a decade, Professor Amiram Goldblum of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,” explained Dr. Matta. “Professor Goldblum was aware of my imminent sabbatical and suggested I apply for the Lady Davis Fellowship as a Visiting Professor in 2016.”
Dr. Matta describes his research as falling into two categories, “The research of my group is primarily in theoretical and quantum chemistry and can be classified into two broad categories: Research with a biological application and drug design bent, and research in the continuum between physical chemistry and chemical physics.” He plans to spend his two months as a Visiting Professor this coming November, working with hosts who are theoretical chemists with a strong interest in biological, medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry.
While acknowledging that two months of a research stay is a “blink of an eye in the lifetime of research,” Dr. Matta believes the opportunity will further elevate his area of research, and also amplify the Mount’s standing as an attractive option for students pursuing a science degree.
“This award recognizes research that has been performed here at the Mount, by my research group, and by my colleagues in the Department of Chemistry and Physics.”
— Dr. Chérif F. Matta, Chair of the Mount’s Department of Chemistry and Physics
Dr. Matta credits the Mount with investing a great deal into the importance of research and providing students with hands-on experience.
“The Mount is unique in its small class sizes, we know our students by name,” says Dr. Matta. “Most students have summer research opportunities as undergraduate researchers in our chemistry labs – many of whom present at conferences and have papers published in international periodicals by the time they graduate.”
“The more exposure we gain as faculty members, the more we can enhance our students experience in our classes and labs at the Mount.”
This focus on research, and the confidence the university places in its departmental leadership, gives Chemistry and Physics students a leg-up when they graduate with a degree from the Mount. “In our own department of five faculty, we have a top-notch educator of chemistry who has won accolades for her exceptional teaching, an accomplished medical organic chemist who has made important contributions to Alzheimer Disease research, and experts in inorganic chemistry and biochemistry,” says Dr. Matta.
“This level of scholarly accomplishments transcends our small numerical strength – as was recently acknowledged by the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) who granted our department the national status of ‘CSC Accreditation,’ a feather on the cap of this vibrant department.”
Dr. Matta, who will return to the Mount after his sabbatical in January of 2017, is anticipating that the Fellowship will provide an exceptional experience, “A sabbatical residence can broaden your scope especially if outside of your comfort perimeter to explore unbeaten tracks. This is exactly what this is.”
More news about Dr. Chérif Matta
Dr. Matta was recently named the winner of this year’s national Acfas-CRSNG (or NSERC) scientific photo competition, French segment (La preuve par l’image) for the photo at right.
Entries are evaluated on the basis of the importance of the science they represent, their value in communicating science to the general public, and their aesthetic appeal.
The Mount is the first university outside of Quebec to win in the French segment of this competition since its inaugural year (2010). Watch an interview with Dr. Matta