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Dr. Subra Suresh

Dr. Subra Suresh

Member, Global Advisory Council, Jio Institute
Former President, Nanyang Technological University
Former President, Carnegie Mellon University
Former Director, U.S. National Science Foundation
Former Dean, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Professor Subra Suresh is an eminent American scientist, engineer and scholar with decades of distinguished and impactful leadership in academia, industry and government. He was appointed president of NTU in July 2017 and began his tenure on 1st January 2018. In recognition of his scholarly and scientific achievements in research and education, the NTU Board of Trustees also selected him as the inaugural Distinguished University Professor, the highest honour given to a faculty member at NTU. 

He was the ninth President of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) from 2013 to 2017. Before that, he served as Director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2010 to 2013, and Dean of the School of Engineering from 2007 to 2010 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was a faculty member for two decades. Prior to MIT, he was Professor of Engineering at Brown University.

Prof Suresh has a deep understanding of higher education, research and innovation systems in North America, Latin America, Europe, Singapore, India and China, having actively engaged with various public and private agencies, corporate boards and researchers across the globe. 

During Dr Suresh’s tenure as president of CMU, he assembled the most diverse senior leadership team in its history, established a strategic plan through an inclusive campus-wide process, created the Presidential Scholarships and Presidential Fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively, with significant permanent endowments, recruited a record proportion of outstanding female first-year undergraduate students in computer science and engineering, founded and chaired the Global Learning Council as an international forum to help improve learning outcomes through technology, and launched a historic campus infrastructure development effort.

Prof Suresh was nominated by Former President of the United States, Barack Obama, in 2010 to lead the US National Science Foundation and was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate. As Director, he oversaw an annual budget of US$7 billion that supports fundamental research and innovation in all fields of science and engineering and related education in more than 2,000 institutions across the US and research facilities across the globe from the Arctic to Antarctica. 

Prof Suresh, who graduated from high school at the age of 15 and received his doctorate degree from MIT in just two years, is the first India-born professor to lead any of the five schools at MIT and the first India-born to lead NSF and Carnegie Mellon.

Prof Suresh’s research has focused on the properties of engineered and biological materials and their implications for human diseases and technologies across a broad spectrum of industries and applications. He has authored three books, more than 300 research articles and 30 patent applications, and has co-founded two technology start-ups.  The Innovation Corps (I-Corps) programme which he designed, created and launched in 2012 while serving as NSF Director is now regarded as one of the most impactful initiatives in translating scientific discoveries into commercial practice, and it has been emulated by many government organisations in the USA and abroad.

Prof Suresh holds the distinction of being the only university president elected to all three US national academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, in addition to his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Inventors. He is an elected member of 15 science and/or engineering academies based in the US, China, France, India, Sweden, Germany, Italy and Spain. He has 18 honorary doctorates from universities around the world including Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), IIT Roorkee (India), Sungkyunkwan University (South Korea), Mangalore University (India), Zhejiang University (China), Northwestern University (USA), University of Southampton (UK), Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Warwick University (UK), St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (Russia), Dartmouth College (USA) and his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Research Interests:

Dr Subra Suresh’s research in materials science and engineering, biomedical engineering and computational biology, has helped to shape disciplines and technologies at the intersections of engineering, science and medicine. 

  • Doctor of Science (ScD) in Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA 
  • Masters in Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, USA 
  • Bachelors in Technology (First Class with Distinction), Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, India

In 2011, Dr Suresh received the Padma Shri award, India's fourth-highest civilian honour, bestowed by the President of India. His other honors include the 2006 Acta Materialia Gold Medal; the 2007 European Materials Medal, the first non-European to receive this highest honour conferred by the Federation of European Materials Societies representing 27 countries; the 2008 A. Cemal Eringen Medal from 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. In 2011, Science Watch/Thomson Reuters selected Suresh as one of the top 100 materials scientists worldwide for the decade 2000–2010. He also received ASME's 2012 Timoshenko Medal, the highest recognition in the field of theoretical and applied mechanics, and the 2013 Alan Cottrell Gold Medal for his pioneering work on fracture and fatigue of materials. He received the Franklin Institute's 2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science for "outstanding contributions to our understanding of the mechanical behaviour of materials in applications ranging from large structures down to the atomic level" and for showing "how deformation of biological cells can be linked to human disease". In 2015, Suresh was awarded the IRI Medal by the Industrial Research Institute. He was appointed an Honorary Fellow of St. Hugh’s College at Oxford University, UK, in 2017, and was awarded the 2020 ASME Medal, the highest annual recognition from the professional society to one individual from among its global membership of more than 100,000 engineers and scientists.

Prof Suresh is a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain; the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences; the German Academy of Sciences; the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences; the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World; the Indian National Academy of Engineering; the Indian Academy of Sciences; the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and the French Academy of Sciences. 

Dr Suresh has been elected a fellow or honorary fellow of many materials societies in the United States and India, including the Materials Research Society; ASM 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 served as an independent director of Battelle Memorial Institute from 2014 to 2017, and of the Lord Corporation in 2010. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of Hewlett-Packard since 2015, and an Independent Director of the Board of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) since 2018.

He has authored or co-authored three books: Fatigue of Materials, Fundamentals of Functionally Graded Materials, and Thin Film Materials. All three books have been translated into the Chinese language.