Mihail “Mike” Roco is senior advisor for nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation and has chaired the U.S. National Science and Technology Council’s subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) since its inception in 2000. He also coordinates NSF’s Grant Opportunities for Liaison with Industry program. Previously he was professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Kentucky and held visiting professorships at several other universities.
Roco is credited with 13 inventions. He has authored or coauthored numerous archival articles and 12 books, including Particulate Two-phase Flow, Nanostructure Science and Technology, Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance, and The Coevolution of Human Potential and Converging Technologies. Roco was a researcher in multiphase systems, visualization techniques, computer simulations, nanoparticles, and nanosystems in the 1980s, and in 1991 initiated the first federal government program focused on nanoscale science and engineering. He also is a key architect of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Under his chairmanship, the NNI budget has increased about tenfold to $1 billion. In addition, he coordinated the preparation of the U.S. National Science and Technology reports Nanotechnology Research Directions (1999) and National Nanotechnology Initiative (2000).
Roco is a correspondent member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a fellow of the Institute of Physics, and a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Nanoparticle Research and has served as editor for the Journal of Fluids Engineering and the Journal of Measurement Science and Technology. He is a member of the Executive Governance Board for Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, the Review Board for the National Research Council Institute (Canada), the International Risk Governance Council, and boards in Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Roco was selected “Engineer of the Year” by NSF and the U.S. National Society of Professional Engineers in 1999 and again in 2004. Among his other honors are Germany’s Carl Duisberg Award, a Burgers Professorship Award in the Netherlands, the U.S. University Research Professorship award, and a 2002 Best of Small Tech Award as “Leader of the American Nanotechnology Revolution.” Forbes recognized him in 2003 as first among “Nanotechnology’s Power Brokers,” Scientific American named him one of 2004’s top 50 technology leaders, and NASA Brief listed him among 2005’s Top 50 Innovators. He also received the AIChE Forum award in 2005.