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Krishna Rajan named chair of Department of Materials Design and Innovation

mdi-insideKrishna Rajan, an internationally recognized expert on materials informatics, has been named the Erich Bloch Endowed Chair of UB’s new Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI). His appointment was announced by E. Bruce Pitman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Liesl Folks, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, following an international search. Rajan joins UB from Iowa State University, where he served as the Wilkinson Professor of Interdisciplinary Engineering, holding appointments in materials science and engineering, and bioinformatics and computational biology. Rajan also directed Iowa State’s Institute for Combinatorial Discovery, founded the Combinatorial Sciences and Materials Informatics Collaboratory — an international research program led by Iowa State — and served as an associate research scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory.

MDI is a forward-leaning, interdisciplinary initiative which will address regional and national demand for new materials to accelerate research and education in advanced manufacturing and biotechnology. A collaborative effort between the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the new department will build on UB’s existing research expertise to discover, develop and bring to market new materials critical to the economic security of the region, nation and world. MDI will strongly emphasize the use of advanced computational tools, in conjunction with bench science, to hasten the time it takes to discover and commercialize new materials, as well as reduce the cost to develop them. MDI will also train future generations of materials scientists and engineers to be more efficient in developing new materials solutions to real world problems.

Dean Pitman says that Rajan “brings a unique set of skills to UB, from informatics and statistics to bench experimentation.” “To respond to the challenges of developing new materials, it is essential to join these different approaches to discovery, transcending traditional departments and disciplines. His ability to innovate in the classroom and through his research is a tremendous asset to the university and the whole Buffalo Niagara region.” MDI received a significant boost from Erich Bloch, who donated $1.5 million to UB to establish the Erich Bloch Endowed Chair for the newly formed department. Bloch earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from UB in 1952. He went on to become a high-ranking executive at IBM and director of the National Science Foundation from 1984 to 1990. Bloch received the National Medal of Technology (now the National Medal of Technology and Innovation) in 1985.

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