Prof. Kumar Wickramasinghe

Born in Sri Lanka, Kumar Wickramasinghe attended Royal College in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 1970, he received his B.Sc. in Electrial Engineering from the University of London and in 1974 he obtained his Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from the University of London. Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe joined the Applied Physics Department at Stanford University for a post-doctoral appointment.

In 1978, he joined the Electrical Engineering Department at University College, London. In 1982, gained tenure at University College, London and received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Best Paper Award (in the IEEE publication, Group on Sonics and Ultrasonics Transactions). In 1993, Professor Wickramasinghe received the V. K. Zworykin Premium award of the IEE (U.K.) for “Contributions to Scanning Acoustic Microscopy”.

In 1984, Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe joined IBM Research at the T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. At IBM, he led the team that developed atomic force microscopes (AFMs) into fully hardened instruments and invented a number of novel scanning probe microscopes and near-field optical instruments and applied them to data storage and in-situ measurements that improve the yield and/or throughput of manufacturing lines. In 1992, he received IEEE Field Award (IEEE Morris E. Leeds Award) for “pioneering contributions to electrical techniques for nanometer-scale measurements of magnetic, electrostatic, thermal and optical properties of surfaces”.

In 1993, he was elected to IBM Academy of Technology. In 1998, Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe was elected as the youngest member at the time and the only Sri Lankan born citizen to be inducted as Member of the US National Academy of Engineering. The US National Academy of Engineering serves as advisers to the US Congress and Government. Also, in 1998, he received the Top Corporate Inventor Award from the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1999, Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe was chosen to be a Centennial Lecturer for the American Physical Society.

In 2000, Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe was appointed an IBM Fellow; the highest technical honor in the company. There are only about 40 IBM Felllows in the entire IBM company. Also, in 2000, Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe and Calvin Quate of Stanford U. received the American Physical Soceity’s Joseph F. Keithley Award for their “pioneering contributions to nanoscale measurement science through their leadership in the development of a range of nanoscale force microscopes that have had major impact in many areas of physics.”

In 2001, he moved to the IBM Almaden Research Center and initiated and led the work on Storage Class Memory, a novel semiconductor memory aimed at replacing mobile disk drives. In 2002, he was named the senior manager of nanoscale science and technology at IBM. In 2005, Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe was named CTO of Science and Technology at the IBM Amalden Research Center.

In 2006, Professor Kumar Wickramsinghe joined the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine and was named The Henry Samueli Endowed Chair and Professor Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Also in 2006, he received the Scientific American 50 Award for one of the top 50 scientific accomplishments of the year.

Currently, Professor Kumar Wickramsinghe is the Chair, Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, University of California, Irvine. He also serves as Professor Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Professor (Joint Appointment) Biomedical Engineering and Professor (Joint Appointment) Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

In 2014, Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors which includes 17 Nobel Laureates. The same year, he was awarded the University of Calfornia Irvine Senate Distinguished Faculty Award for Research.

Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe is a fellow of the American Physical Society, and the United Kingdom’s Institute of Physics, Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Royal Microscopical Society.

Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe has been issued nearly 100 patents in U.S.A and have published over 140 papers.

He works extensively in Sri Lanka and was crucial for the establishment of the first Nanotechnology center in Sri Lanka-the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology in Biyagama, Sri Lanka.Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe remains as one of the international advisers for the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology in Biyagama, Sri Lanka.

Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe lives with his wife in Irvine, California.