Dr. Ponisseril Somasundaran elected chair of Hoover Board of Award

Indian American professor of engineering at Columbia University has focused on a wide spectrum of environmental problems

Dr. Ponisseril Somasundaran, an Indian American professor of engineering at Columbia University, has been elected Chair of the Hoover Board of Award commemorating the civic and humanitarian achievements of engineers.

Named in honor of Herbert Hoover, who led the effort to feed millions of Belgian and French refugees during World War I, the award recognizes great, unselfish, non-technical services by engineers to humanity.

Read: Columbia University Prof. P. Somasundaran wins Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize for Technological Innovation (January 20, 2015)

Past recipients have included former Indian president A P J Abdul Kalam, Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Dwight Eisenhower, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Lillian Gilbreth, considered to be the first industrial/organizational psychologist, according to a press release.

The board consists of representatives from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Society of Mechanical Engineers; and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Somasundaran is the La von Duddleson Krumb Professor of Mineral Engineering and Director of the Langmuir Center for Colloids and Interfaces at Columbia University.

His research has been concerned with a wide spectrum of environmental problems including Greener Chemistry, pollution control and remediation, controlled release in personal care, sludge treatment, waste water treatment, and nanotoxicity and decontamination of viruses to control Coronavirus.

Somasundaran received his MS and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. After five years with the International Minerals and Chemical Corporation and Reynolds Industries, he joined the Columbia University faculty.

He was inducted in 1985 into the National Academy of Engineering, among the highest professional distinctions that can be conferred to an engineer and later to the National Academy of Inventors, Chinese National Academy of Engineering, the Indian National Academy of Engineering, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and the Balkan Academy of Mineral Technology Sciences.

More recently he was the sole foreign fellow elected to the Royal Society of Canada. He was awarded the “Ellis Island Medal of Honor” in 1990. In March 2010, he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s top civilian honors.

Somasundaran was appointed to the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) US EPA in 2014 and chair of its chemical safety and sustainability committee as well as the hazardous risk committee and reappointed to the board in December 2017.

He was appointed as an honorary professor at the Central University of Technology of China, an honorary research advisor at the Beijing Research Institute of Mining & Metallurgy, Beijing, visiting professor/scientist at the University of Melbourne and at the Indian Institute of Science..

He is the author/editor of 15 books and of over 700 scientific publications and patents and editor of Encyclopedia of Surface & Colloid Science and the honorary editor-in-chief of the international journal Colloids and Surfaces.

Somasundaran has served on many professional committees including National Research Council Panels, National Science Foundation, Department of Interior, Department of Energy, National Institute of Dental Research and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Advisory panels.

He was the Chairman of the Board of the Engineering Foundation (1993-95).

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