Ken Suslick, PhD

1974 Hertz Fellow
Kenneth Suslick
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Ken Suslick is the Marvin T. Schmidt Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and CEO of Iridescent Sensors Inc.

Ken received his B.S. from Caltech in 1974 and his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1978 while holding a Hertz Foundation Fellowship (dissertation title: Synthetic Analogs of Myoglobin and Hemoglobin).

Suslick has been at Urbana-Champaign for 45 years, where he taught inorganic, materials, and analytical chemistry. His research projects covered three major areas: the chemical and physical effects of ultrasound (which included nano-materials synthesis and sonoluminescence), the mechanochemistry of inorganic solids (specifically shock wave energy dissipation by MOFs, i.e., metal-organic framework solids) and chemical sensing (focused on the optoelectronic nose and the use of colorimetric sensor arrays for the detection of toxic gases). He has published more than 500 scientific publications with more than 66,500 citations (h-index, 131), including 71 patents issued and pending.

In addition to his academic research, Professor Suslick has had significant entrepreneurial experience. He was the lead consultant for Molecular Biosystems Inc. and part of the team that commercialized the first echo contrast agent for medical sonography, Albunex™, which became Optison™ by GE Healthcare. In addition, he was the founding consultant for VivoRx Pharmaceuticals and co-inventor of one of the first FDA-approved nanopharmacueticals, Abraxane™ (serum albumin microspheres with a paclitaxel core), which is the predominant current delivery system for taxol chemotherapy for breast cancer; VivoRx became Abraxis Bioscience, which was acquired by Celgene for $2.9 billion. Most recently, Suslick invented, developed, and commercialized the “optoelectronic nose”, a simple but highly effective technology for the identification and quantification of gas analytes. He cofounded Specific Diagnostics Inc. in Silicon Valley that developed a successful device for rapid AST (antibiotic susceptibility testing for sepsis diagnosis) approved in the E.U. and FDA fast tracked for approval Fall, 2023. The large French biotech firm BioMérieux purchased Specific Diagnostics in May 2022 for $430M. For his 70th birthday, at the end of 2022, Ken started a new company, Iridescent Sensors which is focused on handheld toxic gas sensors for first responders.

Graduate Studies

Stanford University
Synthetic Analogues of Myoglobin and Hemoglobin

Undergraduate Studies

California Institute of Technology


1985, Sloan Research Fellow, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
1992, Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1994, American Chemical Society Nobel Laureate Signature Award
2007, Royal Society of Chemistry Sir George Stokes Medal
2011, Guggenheim Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
2015, Fellow, American Physical Society
2016, Royal Society of Chemistry Centenary Prize
2016, Fellow, National Academy of Inventors
2018, Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Medal of the Acoustical Society of America
2018, Chemical Pioneer Award of the American Institute of Chemists
2018-2019, 76th George Eastman Professor at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Balliol College
2019, Fellow, American Chemistry Society
2020, American Chemical Society Hildebrand Award in the Chemistry of Liquids, the Materials Research Society Medal
2021, Royal Society of Chemistry Theophilus Redwood Award

Related News

Oct 2, 2023
In the nearly 50 years since Ken Suslick was named a Hertz Fellow in 1974, he has amassed a remarkable list of academic and entrepreneurial achievements.
Jan 28, 2016
Over the past 12 years, Hertz Fellow Ken Suslick, the Marvin T. Schmidt Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana), has been developing technology that can detect a common primary explosive used by suicide bombers, triacetone triperoxide.