Prominent Indian-origin scientist Subra Suresh becomes head of NTU

Eminent Indian-origin scientist, engineer and entrepreneur Prof Subra Suresh has been appointed as the president of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) today. The announcement has come at a time when NTU has topped the list of the world’s most dynamic young universities. 

Prof Suresh will join the office on January 1, 2018 after taking charge from the current president Bertil Andersson.

Prof Subra Suresh
Prof Subra Suresh. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Announcement of the appointment of Prof Suresh was conveyed through an email to NTU faculty, staff, students and alumni by Koh Boon Hwee, Chairman of the NTU Board of Trustees, (Chairman of Agilent Technologies, Inc, former chairman of both Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank).

In a press statement, NTU said, “The succession planning started last year and in line with international best practices of universities, NTU had conducted a global search for its next president in Singapore and internationally. The eight-member search committee chaired by Koh unanimously selected Suresh for the top role at NTU, and his appointment has been strongly endorsed by all members of the NTU Board of Trustees.”

Koh said, “Professor Suresh understands the Singapore higher education and research systems, as well as those in North America, Europe, China and India, having actively engaged with various public and private agencies and boards, and as a member of a number of national academies of science and engineering. He is an educator, scientist, advisor, inventor, entrepreneur and leader all rolled into one. The Board of Trustees and I are delighted that he has agreed to take the top job to lead NTU in its next phase of development.”

Prof Suresh joins NTU from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) where he was president for the last four years.

On his appointment as the president of NTU, Prof Suresh said, “I am excited to have the honour of leading NTU, with its rich history, heritage and beautiful, cosmopolitan campus in a vibrant city state serving as a global hub for finance, commerce, education, research and culture at the crossroads of Asia, at a time when Asia is poised to take a significant leadership role in shaping the 21st century.”

He added, “I look forward to working with the NTU community, including its outstanding faculty and administrative staff, 200,000+ global alumni, trustees, and exceptional students to realise the great opportunities that lie ahead. I am also grateful to Prof Andersson for his very impactful leadership of NTU for the past six years."

Nanyang Technological University. Photo courtesy:

Regarding his association with Singapore, he said, “I have had a very special affinity for Singapore and numerous interactions with colleagues here in academia, industry and government. It has been a privilege to witness and also participate in the impressive rise of both Singapore and NTU on the international stage.”

Suresh was chosen by former US President Barack Obama to serve as director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the agency charged with advancing science and engineering research and education in the US between 2010 and 2013. He holds the distinction of being the only university president elected to all three US national academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and is one of the few elected foreign members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Prof Suresh has an illustrious academic trajectory. Born in India, he graduated from high school at 15 and received his Bachelor degree (First Class) with distinction in technology from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Madras. He received a master's degree from Iowa State University and went on to complete his doctorate in mechanical engineering from MIT in just two years. Following postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he joined the faculty of engineering at Brown University in 1983. Prof Suresh returned to MIT in 1993 as the R.P Simmons Professor and served as Head of Department of Materials Science and Engineering from 2000 to 2006. He was Dean of Engineering at MIT from 2007 to 2010.  Prof Suresh was appointed by then-US President Barack Obama in 2010 to lead NSF and was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate.  He served as President of Carnegie Mellon University from 2013 to 2017.

He is the author or co-author of more than 250 research articles in international journals, co-editor of five books, and co-inventor on 25 US and international patent applications. He has written three books and among them, Fatigue of Materials and Thin Film Materials have been translated into Chinese and are used as textbooks for postgraduate students.

In 2011, Suresh was honoured with the Padma Shri by the President of India.