Robert Birgeneau served as UC Berkeley chancellor for nine years beginning in 2004. Under his leadership, during a time of financial challenges for the UC system and the state, he was an outspoken, nationally recognized advocate for preserving the campus's public character, its excellence and diversity. During his tenure, UC Berkeley became the first university in the U.S. to offer comprehensive financial aid to undocumented students. Birgeneau has since returned to teaching and research in the campus's physics department. His research focuses on novel states of matter. Currently he and his group are studying a new family of materials, iron arsenides and iron selenides, to characterize their properties and determine which features are universal and which are not. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1966. He worked at Bell Laboratories from 1968 to 1975 and then went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology as professor of physics, then department head and later dean of science. In 2000, Birgeneau became President of the University of Toronto, where he served until coming to UC Berkeley.