Professor Lauded for his Work Developing Sustainable Materials

Ramaswamy Nagarajan Image by Tory Wesnofske
Ramaswamy Nagarajan, professor of plastics engineering, has been named UMass Lowell's 2022 Distinguished University Professor.


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An innovator in developing more sustainable and resilient materials, plastics engineering educator Ramaswamy Nagarajan has been named UMass Lowell’s 2022 Distinguished University Professor. 

The annual award honors selected professors for exemplary teaching, research and service to the university. It is the highest accolade bestowed on a UMass Lowell faculty member.  

“I am honored and humbled by this recognition,” Nagarajan said. “The UMass Lowell community has inspired me and provided me the chance to work collaboratively with our students, faculty and staff in research, education and developing innovations that make an impact in many ways. I will be eternally grateful to the university for this opportunity and to my family for their support.” 

A Shrewsbury resident, Nagarajan joined the university’s internationally acclaimed plastics engineering department, which is housed within the Francis College of Engineering, in 2006. Today, as a tenured professor, he serves as the senior director of strategic defense research projects and co-director of the university’s HEROES initiative. In this role, he works with U.S. Army scientists and engineers to develop lighter, stronger and more protective uniforms, equipment and portable energy sources for soldiers.

Nagarajan also co-directs UMass Lowell’s Fabric Discovery Center and the university’s Center for Advanced Materials, and partners with the  Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell. In these roles, he is pioneering the development of more sustainable, multifaceted substances, including environmentally friendly flame retardants, solar-powered plastics, inks that conduct electricity, flexible electronics, “smart” clothing and more. 

Known for his team-building skills, Nagarajan calls on the talents of a wide variety of other UMass Lowell researchers and students in his work, enhancing opportunities for scientific discovery and experiential learning. He has been awarded 77 research grants totaling more than $22 million and holds 20 patents on technology he has developed. In 2011, the UMass Lowell Graduate Student Association honored him with its Faculty Member of the Year award.

Endorsed by 22 faculty members across UMass Lowell’s colleges, Nagarajan’s nomination for the Distinguished University Professor honor was led by his colleague, Professor Pradeep Kurup, chair of UMass Lowell’s civil and environmental engineering department. 

“Professor Nagarajan is an exceptional candidate for this recognition,” Kurup wrote in the nomination form. “He continually demonstrates visionary approaches in his professional endeavors, having made outstanding contributions – both within his field of plastics engineering and across the larger community – by engaging in highly acclaimed interdisciplinary research, teaching and service activities.” 

Nagarajan received his master’s and doctoral degrees in plastics engineering from UMass Lowell, along with a bachelor’s of technology from Anna University and a bachelor’s of science degree from Loyola College, both in India. 

Nagarajan will serve as Distinguished University Professor until 2025 and deliver a keynote address about his field of study to the campus and community next spring. He is the 15th professor to be recognized since the honor was established at UMass Lowell in 2008. 

UMass Lowell is a world leader in plastics engineering education. Founded in 1954, the university’s department offers the first and largest plastics engineering program in the U.S. to be accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). Today, more than 3,000 UMass Lowell graduates work in fields that develop and use plastics, helping to advance and improve the sustainability of these materials to meet the needs of the future.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.