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Subra Suresh, the Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, will succeed Institute Professor Thomas Magnanti as the next dean of the School of Engineering. Suresh will assume his new leadership role July 23.
In making the announcement, Provost L. Rafael Reif noted that MIT's School of Engineering has "long held a unique national and international position of preeminence in both education and research. I am certain that in his new role as dean, Professor Suresh will continue the tradition of outstanding school leadership embodied by Institute Professor Thomas L. Magnanti, dean since 1999, and his distinguished predecessors."
Suresh, who served as head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) from 2000 to 2006, "is not only an accomplished academic leader, but also a scholar and teacher of the highest distinction," Reif said. Suresh holds faculty appointments in DMSE, mechanical engineering, biological engineering and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
"I am grateful for the privilege to serve as the dean of this premier School of Engineering, and very much look forward to working with the highly talented MIT faculty, staff and students to take the School to new heights," Suresh said.
As head of DMSE, Suresh helped recruit nearly a third of the faculty members currently in the department and was instrumental in launching new laboratories along the Infinite Corridor as well as educational and research programs that include a new undergraduate curriculum and a new M.Eng. degree program. Working closely with the Department of Physics, he played a key role in the launch of a building project known as PDSI, whose renovations and new construction for Physics, DMSE, the Spectroscopy Laboratory and infrastructure are now nearing completion.
Suresh is a strong proponent of innovative international collaborations in teaching and research. He was the founding chair of the Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA) Program on Advanced Materials and is the founding director of the Global Enterprise for Micromechanics and Molecular Medicine (GEM4), which brings together 14 participating institutions from the United States and a number of foreign countries.
Suresh's own current research focuses on experimental and computational studies of the mechanical responses of single biological cells and molecules and their implications for human health and diseases. His prior and ongoing work has also led to seminal contributions in the area of nano- and micro-scale mechanical properties of engineered materials.
His many awards and honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and academies of engineering and/or science based in Germany, India, Italy and Spain. Last year, he received the Acta Materialia Gold Medal for "pioneering research" into the mechanical properties of materials and was selected by MIT's Technology Review magazine for its TR10 list as one of the 10 scientists whose research will have "a significant impact on business, medicine or culture" in the years ahead.
Suresh is the recipient of the 2007 European Materials Medal from the Federation of European Materials Societies. He is the first scientist based outside Europe to receive the award.
A 1977 graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, Suresh received a master's from Iowa State University in 1979 before pursuing doctoral studies at MIT, where he received the Sc.D. in 1981. After two years of postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley, he joined the faculty at Brown University, where he rose to the rank of professor of engineering in 1989 before returning to the Institute in 1993 as the R.P. Simmons Professor.
Reif expressed his gratitude to the search advisory committee, which was chaired by Cynthia Barnhart, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and included Professors Akintunde Ibitayo (Tayo) Akinwande (electrical engineering and computer science, or EECS), Angela M. Belcher (biological engineering, or BE, and materials science and engineering); Emery N. Brown (brain and cognitive sciences and HST), David G. Cory (nuclear science and engineering), Steven D. Eppinger (MIT Sloan), David E. Hardt (mechanical engineering), Jacqueline A. Lees (biology), Jerome H. Milgram (mechanical engineering), Dava J. Newman (aeronautics and astronautics and Engineering Systems Division, or ESD), Gregory J. McRae (chemical engineering), Leona D. Samson (BE), Sheila E. Widnall (Institute Professor, ESD and aeronautics and astronautics) and Victor W. Zue (EECS).
Magnanti will return to his research on the theory and application of large-scale optimization. In announcing his intention to step down as dean last September, he said he was looking forward to "an opportunity to teach some of the brightest minds in the world" and planned to complete a couple of books.