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Tomás Díaz de la Rubia

Chief Scientist & Exec. Director
Purdue Discovery Park

Abstract: "Smart Challenges"

With a growing population expected to reach 9.6 billion people by 2050, 60% of which is expected to live a middle class lifestyle by the year 2030, the planet faces difficult challenges. These global megatrends drive projected increases in demand for energy, food, water and other resources, which in turn add new stresses to the environment. At the same time, we now live in a world in an era of exponential advances in science and technology. In particular, the emergence of new digital technologies –the so-called Digital 4.0 revolution–promises to transform the way in which society benefits from these advances. Indeed, the future discoveries and innovations that will help solve society’s 21st century grand challenges will emerge not just from advances in the physical and life sciences, but from the convergence of these disciplines with exponentially advancing digital technologies. We explore some examples of how this convergence is leading to new innovation business models, and how it is being exploited by companies worldwide to offer new products and remain competitive.

Tomás Díaz de la Rubia is Purdue University’s chief scientist and executive director of Discovery Park. In this position, his responsibilities include building upon Discovery Park’s foundation of excellence which has enabled high-impact research that crosses traditional academic boundaries. He works closely with the faculty and deans to help catalyze Purdue’s many strengths and build on its legacy of interdisciplinary research with global impact and public‐private partnerships.

Before coming to Purdue, Díaz de la Rubia served as innovation leader and a director in Deloitte's energy and resources industry practice in Washington, D.C., working with Fortune 500 energy and manufacturing companies to identify and capitalize on business opportunities arising from potentially disruptive, innovative new technologies.

Prior to joining Deloitte, Tomás was the chief research officer and deputy director for science and technology at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California, where he was responsible for the long-term health of the science and technology foundations of the laboratory’s $1.6 billion research program. From 2002-2009, he was an associate director at LLNL, leading its chemistry, materials science, life sciences, and energy and environmental sciences organizations, as well as its $60 million basic materials science, chemistry and biology programs with the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

As a scientist and researcher, Díaz de la Rubia led LLNL's Computational Materials Science Group, investigating fundamental and applied materials science problems with an emphasis on multiscale phenomena and varying applications from radiation damage to semiconductor materials to materials in extreme environments. For his research, he partnered with the Department of Energy, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and other federal agencies as well as industry leaders Bell Labs, Intel, Applied Materials and others. Díaz de la Rubia has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and has co-edited several books and conference proceedings. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and served as an elected member of the board of directors of the Materials Research Society, and vice-chair of the division of computational physics of the American Physical Society. He holds a bachelor's degree (summa cum laude) and a doctorate in physics from The State University of New York, Albany.