Raj K. Krishnaswamy, MSCE 1993, Ph.D. 1995
Inducted in 2020
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) in India, Raj Krishnaswamy wanted to pursue graduate studies that would lead to a career in materials research. He saw that his best opportunity lay with the University of Kentucky College of Engineering.
Krishnaswamy recalls the one-on-one and group learning sessions with chemical engineering professor Doug Kalika as extremely powerful and influential in shaping him as a professional and as a leader. He says his professors and fellow students at UK made his time very enjoyable and enriching. Krishnaswamy also remains grateful for his host family, Edna and Warren Fischer, from whom he learned the human values of having an open, welcoming and inclusive mindset.
After a post-doctoral stint at Virginia Tech, Krishnaswamy joined Chevron- Phillips’ research and development group in 1997, where he focused on the company’s polyolefin business sector. In 2006, Metabolix Inc. hired him to develop a new-to-the-world family of biobased and biodegradable polymers. At Metabolix, Krishnaswamy and co-workers developed various technologies that would eventually be applied in biodegradable agricultural mulch films, compost bags and other applications. Many of the fundamental polymer science and engineering principles Krishnaswamy developed while at UK and at Virginia Tech became extremely valuable as he developed breakthrough concepts at Metabolix.
Today, Krishnaswamy is the director of the Innovation and Technology Center at Braskem America in Pittsburgh, a role he has held since 2013. Braskem is the largest petrochemical company in the Americas and the world’s leading biopolymer producer. Krishnaswamy oversees a global team of polymer scientists and engineers located in Brazil, Germany and the U.S. He is a co-inventor on over 40 patents and patent applications.
Krishnaswamy received the Research & Technology Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Plastics Engineering in 2011. He became a Fellow in the Society of Plastics Engineering in 2009 and was on the National Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Engineering in 2007.
Krishnaswamy considers his service as a mentor to teens in the Lexington Boys and Girls Club and directing the district science fair in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, as two community service activities that have had the biggest impact on his life. He also serves on advisory boards at UK, Virginia Tech and the Society of Plastics Engineering.
Krishnaswamy resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Hemina and their two daughters.