Shashank Priya has joined the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science as its first faculty director for materials and sustainable energy, Roop Mahajan, the institute’s director, announced.

Priya, the Robert E. Hord Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering and a Turner Fellow in the College of Engineering, will retain a partial appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

As a faculty director at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, Priya will work to establish collaborative research programs with other institutes and universities with the goal of building a strong national and global research program focusing on multifunctional materials, energy harvesting, and related areas. For example, he will work with researchers at the institute’s India site to adapt small-scale windmills and flexible solar panels for use in households in rural India.

He also will lead the institute’s Sustainable Energy research thrust.

Priya joined the Virginia Tech community as an associate professor in 2007. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Allahabad University, a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Science, and a doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University.

He returned this month from an Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignment at the National Science Foundation, where he was part of the team managing the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center program. This large and growing program, which forges connections between academia and industry, includes 77 centers. Virginia Tech is involved in eight of those centers.

“I am truly excited to be back at Virginia Tech in my new role,” Priya said. “I am honored to be part of this committed team and very much look forward to contribute to the further expansion of our research programs.”

Priya, whose research is focused on energy harvesting and bioinspired propulsion, has authored or co-authored more than 250 scientific papers and overseen research awards totaling more than $23 million.

His work facilitated dramatic improvements in the performance of piezoelectric materials, driving the development of small-scale devices such as ultrasonic motors, medical sensors, and energy-harvesting systems. Priya also led the team that developed “Cyro,” a robotic jellyfish prototype that received national attention.

Priya is the founding director of the Center for Energy-Harvesting Materials and Systems at Virginia Tech, a National Science Foundation-Industry/University Collaborative Research Center. This center has grown to encompass two U.S. and three international sites.  

Mahajan described Priya as “a distinguished scholar of the highest caliber and an effective leader in building a world-class research program.” 



Share this story