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Venkatesh “Venky” Narayanamurti is the Benjamin Peirce Research Professor of Technology and Public Policy at Harvard. He was previously the John L. Armstrong Professor and founding dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), professor of physics, dean of physical sciences at Harvard, and, in 2009–15, director of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. He was dean of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) College of Engineering (1992–98), vice president for research at Sandia National laboratories (1987–92), and spent much of his scientific research career at AT&T Bell Laboratories (1968–87), where he became director of the Solid State Electronics Research Laboratory (1981–87).
He 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.
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.
At UCSB he recruited a large number of faculty, fostered interdisciplinary research, and nurtured entrepreneurship and collaborations with industry. His name lives on in the university’s Venky Narayanamurti Entrepreneurial Leadership Award (“the Venky”) and first endowed chair in computer science.
He has authored more than 240 scientific papers in different areas of condensed matter and applied physics and technology innovation policy. He lectures widely on solid state, computer, communication, and energy technologies as well as on the management of science, technology, and public policy, and has served on numerous advisory boards of the federal government, research universities, professional societies, national laboratories, and industry.
He is an elected member of the US 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.
He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in physics (in 1958 and 1960) from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and his PhD in physics from Cornell University in 1965.