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Sivaraj Shyam-Sunder

Senior Science Advisor

Dr. Shyam Sunder is Senior Science Advisor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce.  As a member of the core senior executive team, he assesses and addresses a broad range of strategic, operational, and programmatic priorities for the agency. 

Dr. Sunder has extensive experience in technology innovation and the strategic and operational management of advanced research and technology programs to promote U.S. industrial and economic competitiveness. 

Dr. Sunder is working in partnership with the NIST Director to plan, organize, execute, and guide NIST’s Return on Investment (ROI) Initiative—a top priority to advance the President’s Management Agenda by assessing, streamlining, and accelerating the transfer of federally funded technologies from Lab-to-Market.

Dr. Sunder’s prior positions include senior science advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Commerce (2013-17), founding director of NIST’s Engineering Laboratory (2010-13), director of its Building and Fire Research Laboratory (2006-10), and chief of BFRL’s Structures and Materials Division (1998-2004).  In these capacities, Dr. Sunder:

  • guided strategic development and operational implementation of NIST’s Disaster Resilience and Cyber-Physical Systems (IoT) programs;
  • contributed to development of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business” Strategic Plan, advancing its Innovation, Data, and Operational Excellence Goals;
  • repositioned the National Technical Information Service—one of 12 Commerce bureaus—to meet a 21st century national need by becoming a driving force for delivering Innovative Data Services through joint venture partnerships with the private sector; and
  • transformed the Commerce Department’s Office of Chief Information Officer through new leadership and significantly improved service delivery and cybersecurity.

Dr. Sunder earlier served on the faculty of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1981-94), where he received Master of Science (1979) and Doctor of Science (1981) degrees.  He earned a Bachelor of Technology with Distinction (1977) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. 

Dr. Sunder has served on several national and international advisory boards, including Immediate Past President (2016-19) of the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) and member of the Board of Directors of ASTM International (2011-13).  He founded and co-chaired two interagency panels of the White House National Science and Technology Council that set the federal R&D agenda for Cyber-Physical Systems (2012-13) and Net-Zero Energy High-Performance Buildings (2007–11). 

Awards

Dr. Sunder is a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award of Distinguished Executive (2017).  He received the Gold Medal Award (2005) from the U.S. Department of Commerce, its highest honor, for distinguished leadership of the federal building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  Dr. Sunder was elected to the National Academy of Construction (2012) and received NIST’s Equal Employment Opportunity Award (1997), the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize (1991) from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Gilbert W. Winslow Career Development Chair (1985-87) and Henry L. Doherty Professorship in Ocean Utilization (1987-89) from MIT. 

Publications

Return on Investment Initiative for Unleashing American Innovation

Author(s)
Walter G. Copan, Sivaraj Shyam-Sunder, Phillip A. Singerman, Paul R. Zielinski, Courtney F. Silverthorn, Charles J. Na, Henry N. Wixon, David C. Cranmer
The Return on Investment (ROI) Initiative for Unleashing American Innovation is part of a national conversation that is designed to advance the Lab-to-Market

Letter to the Editor of the CTBUH Journal

Author(s)
Sivaraj Shyam-Sunder, Jason D. Averill, Fahim Sadek
NIST was invited to comment on the articles written for a special issue of the CTBUH Journal, marking the ten years passed since the 2001 9/11 attacks on the

Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster (NIST NCSTAR 1A)

Author(s)
Sivaraj Shyam-Sunder, Richard G. Gann, William L. Grosshandler, Hai S. Lew, Richard W. Bukowski, Fahim Sadek, Frank W. Gayle, John L. Gross, Therese P. McAllister, Jason D. Averill, James R. Lawson, Harold E. Nelson, Stephen A. Cauffman
This report describes how the fires that followed the impact of debris from the collapse of WTC 1 (the north tower) led to the collapse of WTC 7; an evaluation

Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster (NIST NCSTAR 1A) ***DRAFT for Public Comments***

Author(s)
Sivaraj Shyam-Sunder, Richard G. Gann, William L. Grosshandler, Hai S. Lew, Richard W. Bukowski, Fahim Sadek, Frank W. Gayle, Jason D. Averill, James R. Lawson, Harold E. Nelson, Stephen A. Cauffman
This is the final report on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) investigation of the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7)
Created May 31, 2018, Updated December 4, 2019