Source: Lehigh University
Professor Gast will succeed Sir Keith O’Nions when he retires as president in September 2014 and is the first woman to head the institution.
She will join Imperial from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, where she has been president since 2006.
Professor Gast said that she has always been “excited by what goes on at Imperial”. She added: “Imperial has a great leadership role in the world. I am therefore deeply honoured by this opportunity to serve as its president.”
She said that she was looking forward to pushing the boundaries of learning, discovery and innovation and that Imperial’s future “looks very bright”.
The move comes after Imperial announced it would introduce a new leadership model in April 2012 comprising of two posts: a president and a provost. The university appointed James Stirling as provost in August 2013.
Under the new model, Professor Stirling will focus on education, research and the translation of research. Meanwhile, Professor Gast will lead the college’s strategy. As part of this she will develop the new Imperial West campus and the College’s links to government, industry, philanthropists and alumni.
While at Lehigh, Professor Gast has overseen an almost 50 per cent increase in the size of the university’s campus estate and boosted its international presence. She also helped to raise US$225 million (£140 million) for the institution during her time there.
She will be the 16th head of Imperial, and is the first appointment from overseas to lead the college.
Professor Gast has previously been the vice-president for research and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a renowned chemical engineering scholar.
The outgoing president and rector Sir Keith O’Nions has led the institution since January 2010. He joined the staff 18 months earlier to establish and direct the Institute for Security Science and Technology.
Under O’Nions’ management Imperial has launched Imperial West, a new 25-acre research and translation campus in west London, and co-founded the Francis Crick Institute with the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and two other universities.