Florida Tech hires new chemistry department head

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Michael S. Freund, Ph.D., is a relatively new face in the Florida Institute of Technology Chemistry Department.

Freund is a native of Gainesville, Fla. and received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Florida Atlantic University and his PhD in analytical chemistry with an emphasis in electrochemistry from the University of Florida.

Although he enjoys Melbourne so far, Freund will be facing a new challenge as the head of the chemistry department, having taken over for interim head Mary Sohn in May 2015 on a permanent basis.

No stranger to important positions, Freund was the director of the Manitoba Institute of Materials at the University of Manitoba, as well as a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, and relishes his opportunity at Florida Tech.

Freund’s philosophy is “Quality over quantity focused on research at the graduate and undergraduate level.”

Freund compared Florida Tech to the other schools he has been at, Lehigh and Caltech, praising their ability to attract the best students as well as the research-intensive focus.

Freund has already made an impact on research in the chemistry department, updating the interface at the research portal to make it more user-friendly and to organize research more effectively. The new portal can be viewed at cos.fit.edu/chemistry.

Freund himself has a strong research background, pioneering the use of conjugated polymers that can act as conductors and semiconductors; an important part of electronics.

As the population of the earth grows, and technology becomes more advanced, Freund sees the demand for energy increase. This is the area in which he believes chemistry can have the largest impact.

Freund sees the world using chemistry to more efficiently harness solar energy.

“No matter what your politics are, we will need more sources and safer forms of energy,” Freund said. “Chemistry plays a central role in harvesting energy, focusing on solar because the sun is the most important source of energy.”

This new technology has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and slowly reverse the effects of greenhouse gases and climate change.

Along with strong support from many other faculty members and students, the chemistry department headed by Freund, is poised for another great year.