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Omar Yaghi

Omar Yaghi

Award-winning scientist | Cal-Berkeley professor | Class of 1990

A true story, from back before Omar Yaghi (’90) was a world-renowned scientist who held the James and Neeltje Tretter Chair in Cal-Berkeley’s chemistry department:

"I recall the first year when I came to the UI," he says. "I had joined the chemistry department to study for my doctorate degree and part of my duties as a teaching assistant was to teach undergraduates in the ChemAnnex building across from Noyes Lab.

"Since I didn't go to high school, my age as a graduate student was 20 years, not very much older than the undergraduates, and this has led to a more friendly and familiar atmosphere in class.

"It didn't take them long to ask me about where I came from (Jordan). When I told them, many of them thought, to my surprise, that I was a prince of a royal family and that I lived in the desert in a tent with camels and oases.

“They were somewhat disappointed to learn that I was just a kid whose dream was to come to America for chemistry.”

He's glad he did, too.

"I have many pleasant memories of places, circumstances and people of those days when I was at the UI," Yaghi says. "That time was one where I learned the meaning and pleasure of discovery, both personal and scientific. These experiences stayed with me until today. I look back on those days with a great deal of fondness."