Lehigh University President Alice Gast *84 heads anthrax case panel
Alice Gast has been appointed to head a panel formed by the National Academy of Science to investigate the 2001 anthrax case. Panel members include chemists, technicians, specialists in infectious disease and a legal professional. Their task is to examine case’s forensic evidence thoroughly and compile a conclusive report.
In 2001 letters containing anthrax powder were mailed to several high-profile individuals, resulting in 17 people becoming infected and five deaths. The suspect was a government scientist who committed suicide before a criminal investigation was held.
The report will not only contain an examination and analysis of evidence to an extent not undertaken previously, but will also provide guidelines for agencies to follow should there be future bioterrorist threats. It is expected to be released within one year.
Gast earned her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at the University of Southern California. She received her Ph.D. in the same major from Princeton in 1984.
After a postdoctural year in Paris at the École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles, Gast taught at Stanford University until 2001, when she moved to MIT to the post of Vice President for Research. She later served as Associate Provost. She left MIT in 2006 to become Lehigh University’s 13th president and its first female president.
Gast served as a member of Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science Advisory Council from 1995 to 2003.