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Rajesh Naik, Mined XAI

Candidate for MRS Board of Directors

Rajesh NaikRajesh R. Naik obtained his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University in 1998. He is currently the Chief Strategy Officer of Mined XAI, an Artificial Intelligence Data Analytics startup. At Mined XAI, he is responsible for building strategic partnerships and developing new product verticals. Prior to his current position, Rajesh spent 20+ years at the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and served as a Senior Executive (Chief Scientist) in his last position at AFRL. During his tenure at AFRL, Rajesh was responsible for building the strategic research vision and guiding development of technology roadmaps in human performance sciences, aerospace medicine, and biotechnology. He also led the coordination of basic and applied research activities, mentoring and workforce development programs. Serving as the AFRL’s senior executive lead, he was responsible for implementing the vision of Air Force’s S&T 2030 strategy. Rajesh was involved in the DoD’s COVID-19 pandemic response (Operation Warp Speed) and advising on diagnostics and other material solutions for combating COVID-19. As the DoD’s lead for synthetic biology, he created the Synthetic Biology for Defense conference that bought together academia, DoD, and industry to discuss advances in synthetic biology and its applications. Rajesh has served on advisory boards, technical and strategic committees for academic, DoD and other governmental, national, and international organizations.

Rajesh has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles and has received 16 patents. He was awarded the John McLucas Award, the highest Air Force award for basic science research, and the AFOSR Star Team Award for Basic Research. Rajesh is a Fellow of the Materials Research Society (MRS), American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), and AFRL. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgia Institute of Technology (Department of Materials Science and Engineering).

Rajesh’s research has focused on biological materials, biosensors, and nanomaterials. He has done extensive work on the interaction of biomolecules with nanomaterials, structure-property relationship of biomaterials, development of protein liquids, and on plasmonic- and nanoelectronic-based sensors. Currently, he has been focusing on using AI in extracting chemical information from complex mixtures using Raman and other spectroscopy-based methods.

Rajesh has been actively involved with MRS throughout his professional career. He has served as an organizer for several MRS symposiums, served on the New Publications Committee, Program Development Sub-Committee, and as a National Meeting Chair (Spring 2020). Additionally, he serves on the editorial board for ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, ACS Chemical Reviews, and Bioengineering.

Candidate's Statement

Materials Research Society (MRS) has long set the standard for creating a platform and community for materials researchers, scientists, and engineers for leading edge interdisciplinary materials research. MRS will soon celebrate its 50-year anniversary of supporting a global materials community. As we look to the next 50 years of supporting professionals and fostering material research, MRS must maintain its strongest characteristics while embracing a new set of challenges and themes. Diversity, equity, and inclusion, and globalization in an increasing digital world, are two important areas. From a topical lens, climate change & sustainability and public health are two examples of high societal need.

Leveraging MRS' values to comprehensively meet global societal challenges, I propose three specific objectives. First, we must bring a diverse global community to share ideas and concepts. Science has long transcended borders and other structural barriers, but the global pandemic highlighted the necessity of global unity. MRS should prioritize outreach to scientists of all backgrounds worldwide through virtual & hybrid events and programs aimed at cultivating ideas across diverse perspectives. Specifically, we need to engage members from countries that have often been underrepresented in innovative progress. I strongly believe this will only elevate the quality of translational science and interdisciplinary solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

Second, a disruptive leadership style focused on leading with change would ensure our community continues to tackle high risk, high reward problems that can enable step changes in human progress. High risk activities go beyond emerging scientific topics, but also how MRS fosters convergent communities. The impact of MRS is far-reaching, as materials research cuts across many areas from manufacturing to medicine to agriculture. Alongside traditional academic representation and larger industry players, we should welcome technology start-up companies and entrepreneurs pursuing cutting-edge science in topical areas that could enrich the MRS community.

Finally, continued advocacy for materials research remains a top priority from my view. Drawing on my experience working in various leadership roles, I have seen how successful interdisciplinary collaborations can lead to dramatic advances in academia and industry. Entities like MRS serve as the uniting forces behind these alliances. Continuing to engage in strategic initiatives that support collaborations with other technical/professional communities will ensure MRS continues to be a globally trusted partner ushering in the transformative materials research needed for the next 50 years.

In conclusion, I am confident in my ability to help the MRS community achieve its vision. Through my involvement in academic research, defense research, and the early-stage startup world, I gained an appreciation for the various entities MRS brings together. Throughout my time at the DoD, I was often responsible for the creation, alignment, and implementation of long-term organizational strategies. For many years, I advanced my own thinking and learned from like-minded peers through MRS programming. I believe that serving on the Board of Directors will allow me to give back to this global community and stay close to the brilliant innovators and groundbreaking science at the core of MRS.