President's Biography

Indira V. Samarasekera, Ph.D., F.R.S.C, F.C.A.E., D.Sc., O.C. is the 12th President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Alberta, one of Canada’s most respected research-intensive universities.  Dr. Samarasekera is internationally recognized as one of Canada’s leading metallurgical engineers for her ground-breaking work on process engineering of materials, especially steel processing. She has consulted widely for industry world-wide leading to the implementation of her research discoveries. Dr. Samarasekera has also devoted her career to advancing innovation in higher education and the private sector, providing national and international leadership through invited lectures and participation on national and international boards and councils. As a Fulbright-Hays Scholar, she earned an MSc from the University of California in 1976. In 1980, she was granted a PhD in metallurgical engineering from the University of British Columbia. She was Vice-President Research and held the Dofasco Chair in Advanced Steel Processing at the University of British Columbia prior to becoming President of the University of Alberta.

At the University of Alberta, building strong international partnerships is a signature feature of her leadership.  Recent institutional level agreements, notably with the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Bombay, Delhi and Roorkee, illustrate the University of Alberta’s commitment to being a global institution working with the international community to find solutions to shared challenges.     Under her administration, a renewed vision Dare to Discover, was established and close to $1.5 billion in capital construction was completed including the National Institute for Nanotechnology, the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science and the Edmonton Clinic in partnership with Alberta Health Services.

Dr. Samarasekera serves on several national and international boards. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Nova Scotia, is Chair of the World-wide Universities Network, consisting of nineteen universities from around the world, is a member of Canada’s Science, Technology, Innovation Council, and is on the selection panel for Canada’s outstanding CEO of the Year sponsored by Caldwell Partners and Bennett Jones. She has served on the Public Policy Forum of Canada, Minister’s advisory committee on Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy, a Presidential Visiting Committee at MIT, the Conference Board of Canada, and the Prime-Minister’s Committee for the Renewal of the Public Service. She was an advisor to the Canadian Minister of Environment at the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, served as a moderator and speaker at the 2010 and 2011 at World Economic Forum in Davos, and the “Summer” Davos in China. She participated in the Prime Minister's roundtable on Canada-India higher education cooperation. She also participated in the 2008 and 2009 G‑8 summits of university presidents in Hokkaido and Turin respectively.   

A sought-after speaker, she has addressed the National Science Foundation in the US, the Science and Technology Forum in Japan, and the Canada‑UK Chamber of Commerce in London. Dr. Samarasekera was President of the Metallurgical Society of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum Engineers of Canada in 1995, served on the Board of The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society of the American Institute of Mining, Materials and Petroleum Engineers and was Chair of the Board of Genome British Columbia.

Dr. Samarasekera received the E.W. R. Steacie Memorial fellowship in 1991, awarded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to the top 4 researchers under 40. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2002 for outstanding contributions to steel process engineering. Dr. Samarasekera is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIMM), an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Mining, Materials and Petroleum Engineering, its highest honour and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Engineering. She has received honorary degrees from the Universities of British Columbia, Waterloo, Montreal, and the University of Western Ontario in Canada, and Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. She received the Peter Lougheed Leadership Award from the Public Policy Forum in Canada in 2012, named one of five runners up for the Nation Builder of the Year by the Globe and Mail in 2010, and one of the top 100 women by the Women Executive Network. Dr. Samarasekera received a Canadian Learning Partnership Award in 2008 and a Leadership Award, by the CASE District VII, USA in 2012.