News - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

"Venky" Narayanamurti Honored with Bueche Award

  • Leah Burrows
| Oct. 03, 2018

The award is one of the highest honors given by the National Academy of Engineering


This news story originally appeared on the website of Harvard's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences on October 2, 2018.

Venkatesh "Venky" Narayanamurti, the Benjamin Peirce Research Professor of Technology and Public Policy at Harvard University and former dean of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has been awarded the Arthur M. Bueche Award by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

The Bueche Award, along with The Simon Ramo Founders Award, which was presented to Thomas Kailath of Stanford University, is one of the highest honors accorded to members of the NAE. Both awards were presented at the annual meeting of the NAE held in Washington D.C on September 30.

The Bueche Award recognizes an engineer who has shown dedication in science and technology as well as active involvement in determining U.S. science and technology policy. Previous winners include William Perry, former Secretary of Defense, John H. Gibbons, Former Advisor to the President for Science and Technology and Charles Elachi, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Narayanamurti was honored for his "for seminal contributions to condensed matter physics and visionary leadership of multidisciplinary research in industry, academia, and national labs that generated research and engineering advances."

Narayanamurti is credited with developing the field of phonon optics — the manipulation of monoenergetic acoustic beams at terahertz frequencies — and is active in the field of semiconductor nanostructures.

"I am honored by this peer recognition and humbled when I look at the list of past award winners who embodied Arthur Bueche's many-faceted contributions to science and technology policy and in fostering deeper engagement between universities, industr, and government," Narayanamurti told the crowd of about 850 people at the awards ceremony.

In his acceptance speech, Narayanamurti spoke about his experiences at Bell Labs, where he worked for many years before taking leadership positions at Sandia National Laboratory, UCSB and, eventually, Harvard.

Narayanamurti reflected on the lessons learned from contemporary social science and policy research and his own lifetime of practice in science and technology. Among those lessons is that "basic" research and "applied" research "are mutually reinforcing and are in harmony and not in opposition to each other" and how research is "critically dependent on its people."

"The nurturing of people is fundamental for research success," Narayanamurti said. "An intellectually challenging environment with a high tolerance for failure and long-term, stable funding is required for research to flourish. Recruitment, mentoring, coaching, and the fostering of an egalitarian, meritocratic, open-door culture are essential elements for our future success."

As dean of Harvard’s SEAS for 10 years, he directed the renewal and expansion of the former division, its transition to a school, the recruitment of junior and senior faculty, and a 60 percent growth in sponsored research. He was an early champion of interdisciplinary initiatives and collaboration, reaching out to colleagues in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as well as Harvard's Medical School, Business School, and School of Public Health to establish new partnerships. Under his leadership, SEAS faculty developed creative and innovative programs to attract students, including new courses of study in computer science, electrical engineering, and bioengineering at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Narayanamurti is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Physical Society, American Association for Advancement of Science, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Indian Academy of Sciences, and Indian National Academy of Engineering.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Burrows, Leah. “ "Venky" Narayanamurti Honored with Bueche Award.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, October 3, 2018.

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