Thirumalai “Venky” Venkatesan, director of the Center for Quantum Research and Technology at the University of Oklahoma, is one of 60 outstanding scientists from across the globe selected to join the Royal Society as a fellow.
The distinguished group of scientists consists of 52 Fellows, 10 Foreign Members and one Honorary Fellow and were all selected for their exceptional contributions to science. They join the ranks of Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Lise Meitner, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Dorothy Hodgkin who all enriched the society with their expertise.
"Dr. Venkatesan is well deserving of this extraordinary honor, and we are proud to have him as a member of the OU community,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Venky’s pathbreaking research as a physicist and engineer, and innovative leadership at the Center for Quantum Research and Technology, embodies the very best of the significant scientific inquiry and innovation that happens every day at OU.”
Venkatesan was named as the inaugural director of the Center for Quantum Research and Technology earlier this year. The center was enabled by a generous gift from the Avenir Foundation and brings together faculty and students with interest in quantum materials, sensors and the scientific study of measurement, as well as quantum communications and computing. He also serves as a professor of physics in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy and as a professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Gallogly College of Engineering.
“The Royal Society is among the most esteemed professional organizations in the world that is dedicated to promoting excellence in STEM fields, supporting international collaboration and demonstrating the importance of science,” said OU vice president for research and partnerships Tomás Díaz de la Rubia. “The future of research at OU and our global impact are sure to benefit from Venky taking his place among the membership of the Royal Society’s exceptional scientists, engineers and technologists.”
Venkatesan joined OU from the National University of Singapore, where he served as the director of the Nano Institute and was a Provost Chair Professor of electrical and computer engineering, physics and material science. He previously was a professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics at the University of Maryland. Prior to this, he held multiple roles at Bell Labs, Bellcore and Rutgers University.
Venkatesan is the inventor of the pulsed laser deposition (PLD) process and is an expert on the fundamental science and applications of oxide films, interfaces and heterostructures for electronics and photonics. His research also encompasses breath-based biomarkers for disease detection, inorganic/bio interfaces and organic electronics for ultra-low energy memristors for brain-like electronics. He is the chairman and CEO of Neocera Magma, a company specializing in magnetic microscopy applications in the semiconductor industry, and president of Neocera, a company specializing in PLD tools. He is also an affiliate member of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Photonics and Optomechanics Group. He has published more than 800 papers (with about 50,000 citations and a hirsch index of 111), holds 35 patents and was ranked 66 in terms of his citations among the top 100 physicists globally in 2000.
"I am happy about this recognition from the Royal Society and am looking forward to moving the Center for quantum research and technology forward such that many more of our faculty will bring in prestigious awards to OU," Venkatesan said.
The achievements and research of this group of Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society are diverse and range from the detection of a new type of neuron in the human brain and the design and development of new vaccines for globally important infectious diseases to a new way of looking at Einstein’s theory of general relativity and contributing to understanding the link between the increase in sea levels and global warming. The new Fellows and Foreign Members originate from around the world and include one Nobel laureate as well as academics and world-renowned figures from industry.
Sir Adrian Smith, president of the Royal Society, said, “This is the first year of my presidency at the Royal Society, and I’ve been very much looking forward to welcoming the newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members. The global pandemic has demonstrated the continuing importance of scientific thinking and collaboration across borders. Each Fellow and Foreign Member bring their area of scientific expertise to the Royal Society and when combined, this expertise supports the use of science for the benefit of humanity. Our new Fellows and Foreign Members are all at the forefronts of their fields from molecular genetics and cancer research to tropical open ecosystems and radar technology. It is an absolute pleasure and honour to have them join us.”