Biography Narrative

cherif_image_for_bioChérif F. Matta, PhD, HDR, FInstP, FRSC (London) is Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Chemistry and Physics at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), an Honorary Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie University, Adjunct Professor at Université Laval, and Adjunct Professor at Saint Mary’s University.


Professor Matta obtained a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences from Alexandria University in his birthplace Alexandria, Egypt. He became a Licensed Pharmacist then served as an Officer in the Egyptian Army’s Medical Corps, a mandatory military service, before joining the medical supplies unit of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO).

On immigrating to Canada, he finally fulfilled his call of being dedicated to research. He went on to earn his PhD in theoretical chemistry from McMaster University in 2002 under Professor Richard F. W. Bader (1931-2012). Between 2002 and 2004, as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto in the group of Nobel Laureate Professor John C. Polanyi, Chérif Matta trained in modeling reactivity on semiconductor surfaces. He pursued further postdoctoral training in computational quantum (bio)chemistry as an Izaak Walton Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at Dalhousie University with Professor Russell J. Boyd. Over the years, he has also benefited considerably from his long-time collaboration with Professor Lou Massa of the City University of New York (CUNY).

In July 2006 Chérif Matta accepted his first tenure-track appointment as an Assistant Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), where he received tenure and early promotion to the rank of Associate Professor. In 2015 he received another early promotion to “Full Professor” with a simultaneous election as Department Chair.

In the past, Chérif Matta has held an Adjunct Professorship at McMaster University (2004-2005) and an “Invited Visiting Professorship” (2007-2012) at the Université de Lorraine (formerly Henri Poincaré), France, in the laboratory of Professor Claude Lecomte. In 2009 he earned his Habilitation to Direct Research (HDR) from Université de Lorraine in the same laboratory. In 2013, he was a “Visiting Scientist” at the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy of University College London (UCL). In 2016, he was named Lady Davis Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 


At the time of writing (March. 2017), Prof. Chérif Matta has ca. 100 publications, including 90 referred journal articles, 12 book chapters, 2 theses/dissertations (PhD, and HDR), 3 computer programs (FRAGDIP, AIMDELOC, and AIMLDM), and 2 books: C. F. Matta, R. J. Boyd (Eds.): “The Quantum Theory of Atoms in Molecules: From Solid State to DNA and Drug Design” Wiley-VCH (2007); and C. F. Matta (Ed.): “Quantum Biochemistry: Electronic Structure and Biological Activity (Vols. 1 and 2)”, Wiley-VCH (2010).

He is currently writing two monographs: C. F. Matta: “Thermodynamics in Biochemistry. Processes, Energetics and Control”, Wiley-VCH; and R. Cook, I. Sumar, P. W. Ayers, C. F. Matta: “Electron Localization-Delocalization Matrices (LDMs): Theory and Applications”, Springer, both books are scheduled to be published in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

Chérif Matta has served as  “Guest Editor” for a special issue of The Journal of Physical Chemistry A (American Chemical Society), Professor Richard F. W. Bader Festschrift, in 2011 [115 (54) (80 articles)], and for a two-part issue of Foundations of Chemistry (Springer) on Philosophical Aspects and Implications of the Quantum Theory of Atoms in Molecules [15(3) 2013, ; 16(1) 2014]. At the present, he serves as Guest Editor for Structural Chemistry for a Festschrift honoring Professor Lou Massa entitled “A Path through Quantum Crystallography” to appear in October 2017. Matta is also the Guest Editor for a Special Issue of the Journal of Computational Chemistry entitled “Quantum Crystallography” to appear in January 2018. He is also serving as a Member of the Editorial Boards of “Future Medicinal Chemistry” (Future Science Group, UK) and of “Foundations of Chemistry” (Springer).


To date, Matta has given 150 seminars and conference presentations at universities, research centers, and industry organizations in Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Qatar, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, UK, and USA, in institutions including the Weizmann Institute of Science, ETH-Zurich, the US – Naval Research Laboratory, the Hungarian Academy of Science, the Colorado School of Mines, and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids.

Professor Matta has organized/co-organized more than a dozen national and international conferences and symposia. He is Organizer and Chair of the 2018 (triennial) International Union of Crystallography (IUCr)’s Sagamore XIX Conference to take place in Halifax (Canada) and also the Organizer and Chair of Quitel XLV (Congress of Theoretical Chemists of the Latin Expression) which will take place in Canada for the first time in 2019. This summer (2017) he is organizing a Symposium on Electron Localization and Delocalization at the 100th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition (CSC2017).


Chérif Matta is the 2017 Award for Research Excellence recipient of Mount Saint Vincent University. In 2016, he was elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and received the national Prize of the Acfas (Association francophone pour le savoir) – NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (CRSNG in French)) for the science image of the year (Click here for interview).  Also in 2016, he was named Lady Davis Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Click here for details).

In 2010, he was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC). A year prior, he has received the Molecular Graphics and Molecular Simulation Society (MGMS) Silver Jubilee Prize for 2009.

In 2004, Chérif Matta was named Izaak Walton Killam Fellow the same year he received the John C. Polanyi Prize in Chemistry (Council of Ontario Universities).


Chérif Matta serves as a “Member” of the Chemistry Evaluation Group of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and as a “Consultant” to the International Union of Crystallography’s (IUCr) Commission on Charge, Spin and Momentum Densities.

Prof. Matta has served/serves as a referee, assessor, and/or judge for Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), the US – National Science Foundation (NSF), the US Army Research Office, the US Department of Energy – Office of Science (DOE – USA), Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR) (French National Research Agency), The Research Foundation – Flanders (Belgium) (FWO), the Foundation for Polish Science’s  HOMMING Programme (Fundacja na rzecz Nauki Polskiej, FNP), National Science Centre – Poland (the OPUS Fund), Romanian Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI), Czech Science FoundationGrantová agentura České republiky (GACR)”, Postdoctoral Excellence Initiative of the University of Bremen (Germany), Professorial Rank evaluator for the Institut für Angewandte und Physikalische Chemie of the University of Bremen (Germany), Marie Curie Fellowships (European Commission), Research Commission of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH-Zürich), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC, UK), Fundación Marcos Moshinsky (Mexico), LabEx MiChem – Comité Scientifique, Université Pierre et Marie Curie – Sorbonne Universités (France), Israel Science Foundation (ISF), The Levrhulme Trust (UK), Research Fund of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC, UK), National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF), Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica CONICYT (Chile), Gordon Research Conferences (GRC 2013), and Academia Europaea Prizes for Young Russian Scientists. He is also a frequent reviewer for three-dozen journals.


Chérif Matta has taught ca. 60 one-semester (half-unit) courses since starting as a faculty member in 2006 at Mount Saint Vincent University, in addition to other courses he has taught in various capacities since beginning as a graduate student and teaching assistant in 1996. In 2004 he received the “Chemistry Teaching Fellowship Award” from the University of Toronto for developing the curriculum of biological chemistry. Matta teaches physical chemistry, thermodynamics, chemical kinetics and dynamics, quantum chemistry, biochemistry, and some physics courses such as waves and optics.


Prof. Matta has served as a Member of Environmental Workgroup of the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) (2002 – 2004) and was a co-author of one of its Official Position Paper. He served as a Member (2007-2009), Vice Chair (2010), and Chair (2011) of the Board of Trustees of Dalhousie Legal Aid Services (DLAS), an organization that provides legal services for low income residents in Halifax.

Updated 18 May 2017



A superimposition of (1) the electron density contour map of a Guanine-Cytosine Watson-Crick DNA base pair in the molecular plane (the outermost contour is the 0.001 e-/bohr3 iso-contour followed by 2×10n, 4×10n, and 8×10n e-/bohr3 with n starting at –3 and increasing in steps of unity); and (2) representative lines of the gradient of the density. The density is partitioned into non-spherical color-coded “atoms-in-molecules (AIM)”, each containing a single nucleus.(Click on image to enlarge). (Acfas-NSERC Jury Prize “La preuve par l’image” for 2016. Cover art of the book: C. F. Matta (Ed.) Quantum Biochemistry, Wiley-VCH, 2010).

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