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Mallapragada, Surya

Published onMar 12, 2021
Mallapragada, Surya

Surya Mallapragada, 2016

Commissioned by University Museums and College of Engineering. U2017.103

SURYA MALLAPRAGADA is an award-winning polymers researcher and innovator whose 20-year career at Iowa State University is paving the way for nanotechnology to deliver vaccines and genes to improve human health.

At Iowa State she is Anson Marston Distinguished Professor and Carol Vohs Johnson Chair in Chemical and Biological Engineering. She is also an Associate Vice President for Research. Her work has been recognized nationally and internationally, winning her many awards, more than 150 published papers, and invitations to speak all over the world.

She credits her success to both her family and the supportive environment at Iowa State.

“My personal philosophy has been the pursuit of excellence,” she said. “I am grateful to my parents for instilling a strong work ethic and for encouraging me to pursue my dreams. ISU has provided a wonderful and supportive environment for my career to flourish and has allowed me to grow as a person and as a leader.”

A native of India, Mallapragada received her chemical engineering education from IIT Bombay in 1993. She joined Iowa State after earning a PhD in 1996 from Purdue University. She has courtesy appointments in the Materials Science and Engineering and Neuroscience programs at ISU. She served as chair of the ISU Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering from 2009-2013. She also is a senior scientist and has served as program director of Materials Chemistry and Biomolecular Materials at Ames Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy Laboratory.

Among her many research honors is a National Science Foundation Career award and being named one of the top 100 young innovators by MIT’s Technology Review magazine.

She holds six patents and is an elected Fellow of three professional societies: the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Inventors. Most recently, in 2017,  she was named a fellow in the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering. She is also the recipient of numerous professional leadership and service awards.

Mallapragada has been able to merge career and family, too.

“My husband is a faculty member at Iowa State, and we support each other and collaborate on various projects related to development of new materials for biomedical applications,” she said. “Our twins are in elementary school, and we enjoy coaching Odyssey of the Mind teams to encourage creativity in youth.”

Previously, she served as a board member for the Octagon Center for the Arts and has volunteered at the Ames Animal Shelter for several years. 

Dean of the College of Engineering, Sarah Rajala: Dr. Mallapragada is an amazing faculty leader, administrator and internationally recognized researcher dedicated to improving human health – we are extremely fortunate to have her at Iowa State.

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