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MIT Researcher Confirmed as Next NSF Director

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher known for his pioneering work on the biomechanics of diseased blood cells will head the National Science Foundation for the next six years, the agency announced today (Sept. 30).

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Subra Suresh, the dean of the School of Engineering at MIT, as the new director of the NSF. With a budget of nearly $7 billion a year, the NSF supports basic research and education in science and engineering.

Suresh began his career as a mechanical engineer, but soon became interested in biology and materials science. He holds a bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, an M.S. from Iowa State University and a doctor of science (Sc.D.) from MIT.

Suresh is known for his work on the nanoscale properties of materials and has been honored with the Acta Materialia Gold Medal for pioneering materials research, among other prestigious awards. In 2007, Suresh became the first scientist based outside of Europe to receive the European Materials Medal, the highest honor given by the Federation of European Materials Societies.

His current research interest, the properties of blood cells affected by malaria and other diseases, holds promise for diagnosis and drug testing, according to MIT materials on his work.

Subresh's colleagues praised him when he was first nominated for the position in June.

"Subra is an outstanding engineering scientist," Marc Kastner, dean of MIT's School of Science, told MITNews after the White House announced the nomination. "He has a very broad perspective on why science is important for its own sake — as well as for its applications."