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President Joe Biden presents National Medal of Science to Indian-American scientist Subra Suresh

Washington: US President Joe Biden presented the prestigious National Medal of Science to top Indian-American scientist Dr Subra Suresh, among others, for pioneering research across engineering, physical sciences and life sciences.

Suresh, the former head of the National Science Foundation, is a professor at large at Brown University’s School of Engineering.

Biden presented the prestigious science medal to nine people on Tuesday.

Suresh was awarded the medal for pioneering research across engineering, physical sciences and life sciences, and particularly for advancing the study of material science and its application to other disciplines.

The announcement from the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation noted Suresh’s commitment to research and collaboration across international borders, which has demonstrated how science can forge understanding and cooperation among people and nations.

“It’s very satisfying,” said Suresh, who said he takes special pride in the recognition because of what the medal signifies, according to a Brown University statement.

Born in India in 1956, Suresh graduated from high school at 15 and by age 25, had earned his undergraduate degree, master’s degree and Ph.D., which he earned in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in just two years.

Suresh became a faculty member at Brown University in 1983 as the youngest member of the engineering faculty.

After 10 years at Brown, Suresh went on to become the first Asian-born American to lead the National Science Foundation (NSF), serving as its 13th director after he was nominated by then-president, Barack Obama.

He returned to Brown’s School of Engineering in September 2023, and earlier this month, the school announced a biennial symposium in his honour focused on the frontiers of technology and society.

“The more I got into engineering, the more I liked it,” Suresh said. “The more I got into science, the more I liked it. The more I went across fields, I liked it even more. The greatest thing about this is that it’s not a job to me. It’s something I really enjoy. I feel very passionate about this and the joy of finding something new,” he said.

Under his leadership, NSF launched the Global Research Council, a virtual organisation of heads of science and engineering funding agencies from more than 50 countries, aimed at fostering global collaboration and data sharing.

He also oversaw the establishment of the Centre-Life Balance programme, an initiative to increase the number of doctoral-level women in the science and engineering fields from 26 per cent to 40 per cent between 2011 and 2021.

(Published 25 October 2023, 02:24 IST)

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