Dr. BL (Rama) Ramakrishna Inaugural Director, Grand Challenges Scholars Program, NAE


Ph.D (IIT Madras)

Current Position

Inaugural Director, Grand Challenges Scholars Program, NAE

Grand Challenges Scholars Program National Academy of Engineering

Chief Academic Advisor, Plaksha

Know More about Amrutha Arora


Rama joined the faculty at Arizona State University in 1985 after a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. In 2011–16 he was the Diane and Gary Tooker Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at ASU’s Fulton Schools of Engineering and a member of the humanitarian engineering faculty until his transition to emeritus professor in 2016. The research questions he is interested in lie at the crossroads of Biology and Engineering. He investigates biological supramolecular assemblies such as proteins, membranes, and DNA for biosensor design and silicon-bio hybrid devices that span a wide spectrum of applications from mining, electronics, and health to defense. In 2013 he was selected to be a Jefferson Science Fellow and, in a cohort of 4 engineers, 4 scientists, and 4 doctors, served as a senior science and technology advisor to the Office of the Secretary of State. He helped guide US international relations through the lens of “engineering for sustainable development” and provided intellectual, technical, and strategic leadership on policies and priorities in health, education, energy, infrastructure, economic growth, and governance. As the senior science and technology advisor, his responsibilities included, assisting in the development of strategies, programs and relationships that support objectives in the energy sector (including especially renewable, mini grid and off grid solutions) as it relates to African agriculture, environment and economic growth. In January 2017, he became the inaugural director of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program at the National Academy of Engineering to lead the effort to prepare a new cadre of leaders that not only have the necessary engineering skills but also the cross-disciplinary knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit, global perspective, and sense of mission needed to meet the challenges facing humankind in the 21 st century. In January 2020, he joined the forward thinking team at Plaksha University as their Vice President, Academic Affairs. Rama will work with the Plaksha team to help with designing meaningful educational experiences, building research & development labs, facilitating entrepreneurship, recruiting faculty and forging partnerships with universities, industries, foundations and people around the world to catalyze the growth of the institution.