Brown Professor at Large Subra Suresh was honored with the insignia of Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest French order of merit, both military and civil. Formerly the Royal Order of the Legion of Honour, it was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte and has been (with occasional slight alterations) retained by all later French governments and regimes.
Suresh was presented the insignia by the Ambassador of France to the U.S. Laurent Bili, acknowledging his more than four decades of collaboration with France, which includes work with the Pasteur Institute, INSERM (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research), CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), Ecole Polytechnique, Ecole Centrale Paris, and Ecole des Mines in Nancy.
This adds to Suresh’s many honors including: the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards, from the President of India; honorary fellowship of St. Hugh’s College at Oxford University in the UK; the Benjamin Franklin Medal from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia; the FEMS Medal from the Federation of European Materials Societies (the first non-European selected to receive this highest scientific honor from the Federation); the IRI Medal from the Industrial Research Interchange that “recognizes and honors leaders of technology for their outstanding accomplishments in technological innovation which contribute broadly to the development of industry and to the benefit of society”; and the ASME Medal, the Timoshenko Medal and the Nadai Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the Ross Coffin Purdy Award from the American Ceramic Society; the Robert Mehl Medal, the Champion H. Mathewson Medal and the Robert Lansing Hardy Medal from The Metals, Minerals and Materials Society (TMS); and the Acta Materialia Gold Medal for his research accomplishments.
He is an elected member of 16 science and/or engineering academies based in the U.S., China, France, India, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Singapore and Spain. He has 20 honorary doctorates from universities around the world including 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 (IIT-M), as well as IIT Roorkee and IIT Hyderabad.
Suresh is formerly the president of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore from January 2018 to December 2022, and was the ninth President of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) from 2013 to 2017. Before that, he served as Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2010 to 2013, and Dean of the School of Engineering and Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering from 2007 to 2010 at MIT, where he was a faculty member for two decades. In June 2023, he was also appointed a member of the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology where he had previously served as the Gordon Moore Scholar and the Clark B. Millikan visiting professor.
While serving as President of NTU and CMU, he held the distinction of being the only university president elected to all three U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. He has also been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. In recognition of his “outstanding accomplishments in technological innovations that contribute broadly to the development of industry and benefit society,” the Industrial Research Institute (IRI) selected Suresh for its highest honor, the IRI Medal, in 2015.
Over the years, Suresh has held numerous professorships and other visiting appointments at universities around the world. His work in nanobiomechanics garnered him a spot in MIT’s Technology Review magazine in 2006 as a Top 10 researcher “whose work will have a significant impact on business, medicine or culture.” He was also chosen by Science Watch/Thomson Reuters as one of the top 100 most impactful materials scientists (based on publication citation impact) during the decade 2000-2010.
Born in India, Suresh graduated from high school at 15 and received his undergraduate degree in first class with distinction from IIT-M, which recognized him as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1997. 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. He recently returned to the Brown School of Engineering, where he spent his first ten years as a faculty member beginning in 1983 and was promoted to full professor in 1989, as professor at large.