Director of National Science Foundation to speak April 5 at Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Subra Suresh, the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), will speak on Thursday, April 5, in Heritage Hall at the HUB-Robeson Center on Penn State's University Park campus. Part of this year's Nelson W. Taylor Lecture in Materials, Suresh's presentation, titled "Biomechanics and Human Diseases," will begin at 11 a.m. The event will begin at 9:45 a.m. with talks by three Penn State faculty members.

At 10 a.m., Moses Chan, Evan Pugh Professor of Physics, will present "Can a Solid be a Superfluid?"; At 10:20 a.m., Tony Huang, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics, will present "Lab-on-a-Chip Technologies Enabled by Acousto-Opto-Fluidics”; and at 10:40 a.m., Michael A. Hickner, assistant professor of materials science and engineering and Philip L. Walker Jr. Faculty Fellow, will present "Ion and Water Motion in Self-Assembled Polymers."

Suresh, distinguished engineer and professor, was nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in September 2010. As director of this $7-billion independent federal agency since October 2010, he leads the only government science agency charged with advancing all fields of fundamental science and engineering research and related education. NSF's 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.

Prior to assuming his current role, he served as the dean of the School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  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 have shaped new fields in the fertile intersections of traditional disciplines.  He has co-authored more than 240 journal articles, registered 21 patents, and written three widely used materials science books. More than a hundred students, post-doctoral 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 received his bachelor of technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in first class with distinction; a master’s degree from Iowa State University; and a doctor of science degree from MIT.  Following post-doctoral 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 2000-06.

In his leadership roles at MIT, Suresh helped create new state-of-the-art laboratories, 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. Since joining NSF, he has established several new initiatives including INSPIRE (Integrative NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education), PEER (Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research, in collaboration with USAID), the NSF Career-Life Balance Initiative, and the NSF Innovation Corps.

Suresh has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences, Spanish Royal Academy of Engineering, German National Academy of Sciences, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, Academy of Sciences of the Developing World, Indian National Academy of Engineering, and Indian Academy of Sciences.  He has been elected a fellow or honorary member of all the major materials research societies in the United States and India, and has been awarded five honorary doctorate degrees.  In 2006, Technology Review magazine selected Suresh as a top-10 researcher whose research “will have a significant impact on business, medicine or culture.”  His many honors include the 2006 Acta Materialia Gold Medal, the 2007 European Materials Medal, the 2008 Eringen Medal of the Society of Engineering Science, the 2011 General President’s Gold Medal from the Indian National Science Congress, the 2011 Padma Shri Award from the President of India (one of the highest civilian honors from the Republic of India), the 2011 Nadai Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the 2012 R.F. Mehl Award from The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.

The Nelson W. Taylor Lecture Series in Materials Science and Engineering honors the memory of Professor Nelson W. Taylor (1869-1965) who was head of Penn State's Department of Ceramics from 1933-1943. During his tenure as department head, Taylor refined the ceramics undergraduate curriculum, strengthened the graduate program, expanded ties with industry, and was able to attract important scientists to the faculty.  He is recognized as the individual most responsible for establishing the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences as a major center for ceramics research. The Nelson W. Taylor Lecture Series was established in 1969, and has consistently attracted scientists of international prominence.

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Last Updated April 04, 2012