Guruswami "Ravi" Ravichandran, the John E. Goode, Jr., Professor of Aerospace and professor of mechanical engineering, and director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT), has been selected as the new chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS). On September 1, he will begin his five-year term, taking over the Otis Booth Leadership Chair from current division chair Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering.
He was selected by a search committee chaired by Kerry Vahala, the Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics. The Board of Trustees formally approved the committee's selection at a meeting in late July.
Ravichandran has been at Caltech since joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 1990, and he was named the John E. Goode, Jr., Professor in 2005. He has also served as director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT) since 2009. His research group explores the mechanical properties of materials ranging from active materials and biomaterials to metals, bulk metallic glasses, adhesives, and composites. By discovering fundamental insights into the way that materials deform, are damaged, and fail, his group aims to develop new experimental methods for studying these and other phenomena in solid mechanics.
"I believe, based on the evaluation of the search committee and on my own interactions with him, that Ravi not only has the judgment, energy, and vision to lead the division creatively and effectively, but that he will also be an outstanding advocate for the division," said Edward Stolper, Carl and Shirley Larson Provostial Chair and William E. Leonhard Professor of Geology, in an announcement to the EAS faculty. "I personally look forward to working closely with him on behalf of the division and the Institute."
In his new position, Ravichandran says that he will have a responsibility to maintain and promote the identity of EAS while also growing interdisciplinary collaborations with other divisions and JPL. His first priority as division chair, he says, "is to develop a strategic plan and unifying vision for the division that will continue to bring the diverse disciplines in EAS and other divisions together." In that pursuit, he says he looks forward to "learning about the cutting-edge research in various parts of the division, which has made EAS one of the preeminent centers of engineering science and technology."
In addition, Ravichandran says that he hopes to continue many of the initiatives begun by current division chair Rosakis. "Ares has been an outstanding champion of EAS and was responsible for reorganizing the division into departments, which has led to a manageable structure," he says. Specifically, he would like to continue Rosakis's plans for renovating buildings, programs to provide seed funding for early-stage research, and diversity initiatives.
"During my tenure, I would like to see that we attract the best faculty and students to EAS and the Institute who will enable interdisciplinary activities across Caltech and contribute to frontiers of engineering science and technology. I would like to see a more diverse body of students and faculty, who will enrich EAS and the institute, and I would like to see EAS be at the forefront of technological revolution based on our unique ability to drive advances through basic research," he says.