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Former head of National Science Foundation to speak at Illinois

9/18/2013 | Mike Helenthal, News Editor | 217-333-5491;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Subra Suresh, who took over as president of Carnegie Mellon University in July after being the director of the National Science Foundation, will give the final lecture in the chancellor’s speaker series.

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Subra Suresh

Suresh’s talk, scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2, is part of the “Research University in the World of the Future,” a series started last fall by Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise. The talk will be at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.

While on campus, Suresh also will deliver a Center for Advanced Studies/MillerComm presentation at 4 p.m. Oct. 1 titled “Crossing Boundaries and Transforming Lives: Engineering, Cell Biology and Medicine.” That lecture will be in the Knight Auditorium at the Spurlock Museum.

Wise said the speakers in the chancellor’s series have presented a thought-provoking range of ideas about the future of research universities and that the campus is fortunate to have someone as accomplished as Suresh rounding out the series.

“He’s been on the front lines of the national debate over research funding and he knows firsthand the foundational importance of science and technology in helping solve some of the world’s most pressing problems and in providing opportunities for economic growth,” she said.

Suresh earned his bachelor’s of technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, his master’s degree from Iowa State University and his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He conducted postgraduate research at the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In 1989, he was promoted to full professor at Brown University, and he joined MIT in 1993, serving as the head of its department of materials science from 2000-2006. He also served as the dean of MIT’s School of Engineering.

He is known academically for his experimental and modeling work on the mechanical properties of structural and functional materials, innovations in materials design and characterization, and discoveries of possible connections between cellular nanomechanical processes and human disease states. His work has shaped new fields in the fertile intersections of traditional disciplines.

Suresh is a co-author of more than 250 journal articles, has 21 registered patents, and has written three widely used books.

As a leader at MIT, he helped create state-of-the-art laboratories, the MIT Transportation Initiative and the Center for Computational Engineering; led efforts to establish the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Center; and oversaw the recruitment of a record number of female faculty members in engineering.

He was nominated to his job at NSF by President Barack Obama and unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate. He managed a budget of $7 billion and established several initiatives, including Integrative NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education.
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