Crassidis, Rajan named SUNY Distinguished Professors

SUNY distinguished professor medal.

SUNY Distinguished Professor is the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system.

by UB Now staff

Published December 6, 2019

UB faculty members John Crassidis and Krishna Rajan have been named SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system.


They were appointed to the distinguished professor ranks by the SUNY Board of Trustees at its meeting on Nov. 20.

The rank of distinguished professor is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor.

Crassidis and Rajan were named distinguished professors in recognition of their international prominence and distinguished reputations within their chosen fields. According to SUNY, “this distinction is attained through significant contributions to the research literature or through artistic performance or achievement in the case of the arts. The candidate’s work must be of such character that the individual’s presence will tend to elevate the standards of scholarship of colleagues both within and beyond these persons’ academic fields.”

John Crassidis

John Crassidis.

Crassidis, Samuel P. Capen Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is a world-renowned expert in space situational awareness, space navigation and space station safety. In particular, his research has improved the detection and tracking of man-made objects orbiting the Earth, helped keep astronauts safe during space missions and provided new research directions for the U.S. Department of Defense that have the potential to provide even greater protection of our country’s assets in space.

A UB faculty member since 2001, Crassidis also serves as director of UB’s Center for Multisource Information Fusion Center — the only dedicated fusion center in the U.S., with annual revenues of about $10 million per year — where he leads a team of researchers focusing on basic and applied research in multiple-source information processing environments, such as in multiple-sensor or multiply-instrumented systems.

He is also the founder and director of the UB Nanosatellite Laboratory, where nearly 200 students are designing, building and testing satellites for use by the Air Force and NASA.

A prolific researcher, Crassidis has produced 239 journal and conference publications, as well as two textbooks. His work has been continuously funded since 1999, garnering 58 grants totaling $29 million on which he has served or serves as principal investigator or Co-PI. These grants come from a wide range of sources, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Missile Defense Agency and Northrop Grumman Corporation.

A fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the American Astronautical Society, Crassidis is currently PI on seven grants totaling $7.5 million, and is also co-author of “Optimal Estimation of Dynamic Systems,” a textbook now in its second edition that is considered “the standard reference in its field” for practicing aerospace engineers working on estimation projects.

Krishna Rajan

Krishna Rajan.

Rajan, Erich Bloch Chair and Empire Innovation Professor in the Department of Materials Design and Innovation in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences, is an internationally recognized expert on materials informatics.

His pioneering work in establishing this field applies data-intensive methodologies to the discovery, design, characterization and modeling of a material. Rajan also has been a leader in advancing machine learning for the interpretation of data from atomic-scale chemical-imaging techniques, such as atom probe tomography.

A UB faculty member since 2015, he was recruited to the university to build MDI, which now serves as a model for the next generation of materials science departments around the world.

Rajan is a prolific scholar, publishing more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and over 20 invited book/encyclopedia chapters and review articles, serving as editor of 12 special issues for journals and supervising approximately 150 master’s and doctoral students and postdoctoral scientists. He has delivered more than 300 invited presentations and plenary lectures around the world, including the Presidential Lecture Award from the National Institute of Materials Science of Japan.

He has received numerous international recognitions, including the Alexander von Humboldt Award from Germany, the CSIRO Distinguished Visiting Scientist Award from Australia and the CNRS Visiting Professorship award from France.

Over the course of his career, Rajan has had sustained funding from the NSF, U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense and private industry. Since arriving at UB, he has procured more than $8.5 million in research funding, including a $2.9 million NSF grant to establish UB’s Materials Data Engineering Laboratory.

He also established the multimillion-dollar Collaboratory for Regenerative Economy (CoRE), an interdisciplinary research center developing a new paradigm for data-driven materials research to address the issues of social justice and economic sustainability.

Rajan has served on numerous federal government committees, among them the U.S. National Committee on Data Science and Technology, and the National Academy of Sciences ARO Panel Materials Science & Engineering.

He is presently a member of the Science and Technology Experts Group for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.