|4th President of Nanyang Technological University|
Assumed office |
1 January 2018
|Preceded by||Bertil Andersson|
|9th President of Carnegie Mellon University|
1 July 2013 – 30 June 2017
|Preceded by||Jared Cohon|
|Succeeded by||Farnam Jahanian|
|13th Director of the National Science Foundation|
|Preceded by||Arden L. Bement Jr.|
|Succeeded by||France A. Córdova|
30 May 1956|
Tamil Nadu, India
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras|
Iowa State University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Benjamin Franklin Medal (2013)|
Timoshenko Medal (2012)
Eringen Medal (2008)
European Materials Medal (2007)
Subra Suresh (Tamil:சுப்ரா சுரேஷ் ) is the fourth President of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with effect from 1 January 2018, where he is also the inaugural Distinguished University Professor.
Suresh served as Director of the National Science Foundation from 2010 to 2013. Before his appointment to NSF, he was the Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was the Dean of the School of Engineering (2007-2010). Prior to joining NTU, he was the president of Carnegie Mellon University from 2013 to 2017.
In October 2013, Suresh was elected to the Institute of Medicine, now known as the National Academy of Medicine, the branch of the U.S. National Academies that honors researchers in medicine and health care. He already had been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (2012) and the National Academy of Engineering (2002). Suresh is one of only 20 American scientists to be elected to all three branches, and the only current university president to hold this distinction. He is the first Asian-born professor to lead any of the five schools at MIT and the first Asian-born scientist to lead NSF.
Commenting on Suresh's tenure at NSF, President Obama stated, "We have been very fortunate to have Subra Suresh guiding the National Science Foundation... He has shown himself to be a consummate scientist and engineer – beholden to evidence and committed to upholding the highest scientific standards. He has also done his part to make sure the American people benefit from advances in technology, and opened up more opportunities for women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups. I am grateful for his service."
Background and education
Suresh was born in Tamil Nadu India. Suresh’s father was a government official in Tamil Nadu and his mother a homemaker. He has an young sister named chitra. His mother has motivated him to pursue his studies abroad in the 1970s. Suresh has been married to Mary (Delmar) since 1986. Mary, worked in clinical research nursing and public health administration. She served for five years as the Director of Public Health for the town in Massachusetts where the couple lived for 17 years. They have two daughters, Nina and Meera. Nina is a medical doctor specializing in pediatrics and Meera is a global health professional at a non-profit organisation in the US.
Suresh graduated from 12th grade in Tamil Nadu, India, at the age of 15. He received his BTech from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai in May 1977; First Class with Distinction and his MS from Iowa State University in May 1979. He completed his and a Doctor of Science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he joined the faculty of engineering at Brown University in December 1983, and was promoted to full professor in July 1989. He joined MIT in 1993 as the R.P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and served as head of MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering during 2000-2006.
Suresh joined Brown University in December 1983 as Assistant Professor of Engineering and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in July 1986 and to Professor in July 1989. In 1985, he was selected by the White House to receive the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award. Prior to and during his tenure at Brown University, he received many other honors including: The Hardy Gold Medal "for exceptional promise of a successful career in the broad field of metallurgy by a metallurgist under the age of 30," and the 1985 Matthewson Gold Medal from The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society for the best paper published in Metallurgical Transactions, and the 1992 Ross Coffin Purdy Award from the American Ceramic Society for the best paper published in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society during 1990. In 1991, he authored Fatigue of Materials, a book published by Cambridge University Press. This book has been cited more than 4,500 times (Google Scholars) by scientists and engineers in scholarly publications, adopted as both a textbook and a reference work, and translated into Chinese and Japanese.
Prior to assuming his position as director of NSF, Suresh served as MIT's Dean of Engineering from July 2007 and had held MIT faculty appointments in Materials science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biological Engineering, and Health Sciences and Technology. He headed MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering from 2000–2006.
In his leadership roles at MIT, he helped create new state-of-the-art laboratories, a new undergraduate curriculum in materials science and engineering, the MIT Transportation Initiative, and the Center for Computational Engineering; led MIT's efforts in establishing the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Center; and oversaw the recruitment of a record number of women faculty in engineering. As Dean of Engineering, he launched and/or oversaw the growth of a number of MIT's major international programs in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.
In June 2010, Suresh was nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to be the Director of the National Science Foundation and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in September 2010. From 2010–2013, he led this independent federal agency with an annual (U.S.)$7-billion budget; according to its 2013 Fact Sheet, "its programs and initiatives keep the United States at the forefront of science and engineering, empower future generations of scientists and engineers, and foster economic growth and innovation. NSF funds discovery, learning, innovation, and research infrastructure to boost U.S. leadership in all aspects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research and education. In Fiscal Year 2012, NSF supported more than 300,000 individuals in 1,895 institutions in every state in the United States."
As Director of NSF, Suresh established a number of new initiatives including Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE); Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI); the NSF Career-Life Balance Initiative; Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW); and the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps).
Suresh served as a member of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), a cabinet-level council comprising federal agency heads and cabinet secretaries. He also co-chaired the NSTC Committee on Science and the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education, and he is a member of the cabinet-level National Ocean Council. Suresh also chaired the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), which helped set priorities for coordinating future arctic research across the federal government. Under Suresh's leadership, IARPC released a multiagency five-year strategic plan.
In response to an invitation from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Suresh chaired a Global Summit on Scientific Merit Review at NSF in May 2012. This Summit included the participation, for the first time, of the heads of leading science funding agencies from nearly 50 countries. Summit participants endorsed a Statement of Principles of Scientific Merit Review to serve as a basis of potential multilateral collaborations in the future. The participants also collectively launched a virtual entity, the Global Research Council (GRC), in an attempt to co-ordinate practices so as to enhance international collaboration in Science among developed and developing countries. In an editorial about the Summit, published in Science magazine, Suresh stated, "Good science anywhere is good science everywhere", (Science, Vol 336, page 959, 25 May 2012 issue).
Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Suresh was the 9th president of Carnegie Mellon University, from 2013 to 2017, where he held faculty appointments in Carnegie Mellon's Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Engineering and Public Policy, Computational Biology Department, and in the Heinz College.
It is normally the case where fields in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) have a much higher proportion of male students than female. The concern is that not only do women feel unwelcome and underrepresented in the classrooms, but the long-term effect is a male-dominated industry filled with biased researches being done with results that are skewed to represent men, and the general scientific innovations either mis- or under-represent women. In 1995, "only 7% of freshman Computer Science majors" were women. Since then, until 2004, Carnegie Mellon University implemented strategic processes that included reaching out to high school girls who did well in math and science through Technights, to adjusting their admissions process so that they sought for a student’s potential as well as experience, until in 2004, the percentage of freshman girls majoring Computer Science reached 42%. Suresh, who once worked with the Obama administration on initiatives to promote women in STEM fields has been further pushing for diversity in the math and sciences field. "Change can’t happen by fiat from a top executive," he said. "It takes awareness on the part of deans, faculty and staff members, and others." Carnegie Mellon University’s gender ratio in these fields "soars above national average."
On 17 February 2016 Carnegie Mellon University announced it had settled the patent infringement lawsuit filed by the university in 2009. The proceeds of the settlement totaled $750 million; a portion of which will be shared with the inventors. According to Suresh, the university will receive about $250 million. A substantial majority of that amount will be dedicated to benefit students succeed and supporting programs that "enhance the student experience" according to the school’s website.
"’There is broad consensus across the university that we should dedicate a substantial majority of this resource to helping qualified students afford a Carnegie Mellon education, helping all students succeed while they are here, and enhancing the student experience,’ Suresh wrote in an email to the global Carnegie Mellon community. " "A key part of Carnegie Mellon's mission is making discoveries that have global impact".
During his time as the president of the university, Subra Suresh increased the amount of donations and sponsorships several fold. Upon taking office, Suresh was able to bring in a $67 million donation and gift from CMU alumnus and renowned hedge fund investor, David Tepper (Tepper ‘82). The gift was made by David Tepper to "create a major new academic hub that will further strengthen collaboration among CMU's schools and colleges." This donation is the largest gift from a CMU alumnus and for a building project in the university’s history, allowed for the creation of the Tepper Quadrangle set for completion in the fall of 2017. In 2015, Suresh was able to gather two more donations from corporations, a $35 million gift from Tata Consultancy and a $5.5 million gift from Uber, providing a gateway for further research and innovation at the institution.
In early 2017 Suresh pledged support to the students of Carnegie Mellon in lieu of President Trump’s immigration ban. In a letter circulated to students, Subra Suresh commented that he was "deeply troubled by some of the news out of Washington in recent days, and potential threats – explicit and implicit – posed to the work of so many students and scholars across the nation who were not born in the United States." Suresh personally recounted his journey as an immigrant to the United States writing, " first came to the U.S. at age 21 with a partially filled suitcase, less than $100 in cash, and a one-way airplane ticket purchased with a loan. Once in the U.S., I was able to pursue a series of extraordinary opportunities for scholarship and service without regard for my national origin — an experience that forged in me an unshakeable faith in the ability of this nation to help everyone to succeed, wherever they came from."
Subra Suresh has been very open about his immigrant background and has advocated for diversity in higher education. In 2014 he commented to the Pittsburgh Gazette that, "Diversity in the broadest sense — intellectual, cultural, ethnic, racial or national origin — intrinsically enhances artistic and technical innovation."
Nanyang Technological University Singapore
Since starting at NTU Singapore in January 2018, Suresh has launched a major initiative to position NTU as one of the largest Smart campuses and one of the most environmentally-friendly university campuses in the world.
His experimental research focuses on modeling of the mechanical properties of structural and functional materials, the design and characterization of possible connections between cellular nanomechanical processes and on the study of human disease states. Some of this work has spawned new fields in the fertile interdisciplinary intersections of traditional disciplines in engineering, physical sciences, life sciences, and medicine. More than 100 students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scholars have been members of his research group, and many of them now occupy prominent positions in academia, industry, and government worldwide.
Suresh is the author or co-author of more than 240 research articles in international journals, co-editor of five books, and co-inventor on 22 U.S. and international patent applications. He has authored or co-authored three material science books: Fatigue of Materials, Fundamentals of Functionally Graded Materials, and Thin Film Materials. In 2011, Science Watch/Thomson Reuters selected Suresh as one of the top-100 scientists for the decade 2000-2010 in its worldwide ranking of the field of Materials Science.
Suresh's research contributions at the intersections of engineering, physical sciences, life sciences, and medicine include:
- Identification of key mechanisms that influence the growth of fatigue cracks in a wide variety of brittle and ductile materials
- Development of experimental and computational methods for optimising the mechanical performance of composites and compositionally graded materials
- Formulation of new experimental methods and algorithms for linking the mechanical characteristics of thin films, coatings, and multi-layered materials with performance
- Study of nanocrystallisation during room-temperature mechanical contact in metallic glasses
- Development of strategies to optimise strength, ductility, and damage tolerance of materials through the controlled introduction of nano-scale internal interfaces
- Delineation of important links between the mechanics of individual blood cells and human disease states, through experiments and computation
- Elucidation of the role of RESA [ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen] protein in modulating the mechanical properties and rheological response of human blood cells invaded by malaria parasites
- Development of new microfluidic platforms for human disease diagnostics, therapeutics and drug efficacy essays
In 2013, Suresh was elected to the Institute of Medicine. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering
In 2011, Suresh received the Padma Shri award, India's fourth highest civilian honor, bestowed by the President of India. Other honors include the 2006 Acta Materialia Gold Medal; the 2007 European Materials Medal, the highest honor conferred by the Federation of European Materials Societies comprising 27 countries; the 2008 Eringen Medal of the Society of Engineering Science; the 2011 General President's Gold Medal from the Indian National Science Congress; the 2012 R.F. Mehl Award from The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society; the 2011 Nadai Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME); and the 2011 National Materials Advancement Award from the Federation of Materials Societies. He also received ASME's 2012 Timoshenko Medal, the highest recognition in the field of theoretical and applied mechanics.
Suresh received the Franklin Institute's 2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science for "outstanding contributions to our understanding of the mechanical behavior of materials in applications ranging from large structures down to the atomic level. This research also showed how deformation of biological cells can be linked to human disease."
Suresh also received the Alan Cottrell Gold Medal for his pioneering work on fracture and fatigue of materials at the 2013 International Conference on Fracture.
Suresh is a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Engineering; Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences; German National Academy of Sciences; Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences; Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) in Trieste, Italy; Indian National Academy of Engineering; Indian Academy of Sciences (Bangalore); and, most recently in 2014, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Sciences in 2016. He is a recipient of 11 honorary doctorate degrees from universities in the United States, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, India, China, and the United Kingdom.
Suresh has been elected a fellow or honorary fellow of various materials societies in the United States and India, including the Materials Research Society, the American Society for Materials International; The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the American Ceramic Society; the Indian Institute of Metals; and the Materials Research Society of India.
He became a member of the board of directors of Battelle in August 2014. He is a director of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and a member of the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In April 2015, he was awarded the IRI Medal by the Industrial Research Institute.
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Arden L. Bement, Jr.
| Director of the National Science Foundation
| President, Carnegie Mellon University
| President of Nanyang Technological University
1 January 2018 – present