Eric Issacs

President of the Carnegie Institution
Dr. Eric Issacs pic

Eric D. Isaacs is a condensed matter physicist and the 11th president of the Carnegie Institution for Science, a private, nonprofit research organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. As president of Carnegie Science, Dr. Isaacs leads the Institution’s investigators in forefront research in plant biology, developmental biology, Earth and planetary sciences, astronomy, and global ecology.
Dr. Isaacs previously served as the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor in Physics and Executive Vice President for Research, Innovation and National Laboratories at the University of Chicago. In that role, he was CEO of UChicago Argonne, LLC and the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors for Argonne National Laboratory. He also was a board member for Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL). As the University’s EVP for Research, Dr. Isaacs provided direct oversight of Argonne and Fermilab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. He also led the University’s founding-partner relationship with the Giant Magellan Telescope project. His responsibilities included furthering the University’s efforts in engineering, computation, data science, and entrepreneurship.
He previously served as Provost of the University of Chicago. During his tenure, he expanded the University’s capabilities in applied sciences, engineering, and social sciences, with special emphasis on the departments of political science and economics. He initiated a substantial rebuilding of computer and computational sciences across the campus. In collaboration with the University President, he organized and appointed the faculty Committee on Freedom of Expression, chaired by Law Professor Geoffrey Stone. Principles and recommendations set forth in the Committee’s report are now being adopted by universities nationwide.
Dr. Isaacs spent five years as Director of Argonne, one of the nation's largest science and engineering research centers. As Argonne’s Director, Dr. Isaacs earned a reputation as a nationally recognized institutional strategist and advocate for scientific research and its importance in driving the U.S. economy. He has been a featured speaker at conferences and meetings around the world, including the Aspen Ideas Festival and @GoogleTalks. He also has contributed articles on science and technology issues and policy to the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic,,, and The Washington Monthly.
Dr. Isaacs joined the University and Argonne in 2003 as the founding director of the Center for Nanoscale Materials, where researchers study and create materials at the atomic and molecular scales.
He began his career as a postdoctoral fellow at Bell Laboratories from 1988 to 1990, studying magnetism and correlated electronic systems, mostly with synchrotron-based X-ray techniques and at low temperatures. He went on to spend 15 years at Bell Labs, including terms as director of the semiconductor physics research and materials physics research departments.
Dr. Isaacs holds a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor's degree from Beloit College. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the National Academy of Inventors. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 scholarly publications.