Northwestern U to honor Indian-American Subra Suresh with honorary degree

Subra Suresh, described as a “trailblazer in engineering” by Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, which is going to award him an honorary degree at its commencement ceremonies June 22. (Photo:

Four distinguished individuals, including an Indian-American engineer will be awarded honorary degrees at Northwestern University’s commencement day in Evanston, Illinois.

Subra Suresh, “a trailblazer in engineering,” particularly how it intersects with biotechnology is one of the four people who will be honored June 22, the university said in a press release. The other three include renowned opera singer, soprano Renee Fleming, who will be giving the commencement address; Sheldon Harnick, a Tony Award-winning lyricist and NU alumnus whose musical work spanned six decades; and William A. Osborn, chair of Northwestern University’s Board of Trustees.

Suresh is one of the world’s top researchers in materials science and engineering and its intersection with biotechnology. President and Distinguished University Professor at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University since January, he was previously president of Carnegie Mellon University, director of the National Science Foundation during the Obama administration, and dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Engineering, where he is the Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering Emeritus.

A BTech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Suresh received an MS from Iowa State University and an ScD from MIT. He also taught at Brown University. Among his many honors are the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute, the European Materials Medal, the ASME Timoshenko Medal and the Nadai Medal.

He was presented the National Materials Advancement Award, and the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society’s Hardy Gold Medal. He also has been awarded the Mathewson Gold Medal and the Robert Mehl Medal.

Elected to the National Academy of Inventors and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Suresh is part of an elite group elected to all three of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the press release said.