Indian American appointed by Obama to the US National Science Board

Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan is a professor at the Arizona State University.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: An Indian American professor from Arizona State University has been appointed to a key government position by President Barack Obama.

Dr. Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan has been tapped by Obama to the US National Science Board, which advises the White House and legislative bodies on policy decisions regarding science and technology. Panchanathan’s appointment makes him the first person of Indian origin to ever be appointed to the 64 year-old organization.

In announcing the appointment of Panchanathan, who was named alongside a slew of other appointments by the White House, Obama said “Our nation will be greatly served by the talent and expertise these individuals bring to their new roles. I am grateful they have agreed to serve in this administration, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

In a statement, provided via press release by Arizona State University, Panchanathan expressed his gratitude and excitement to join the National Science Board, an exclusive group of the nation’s leading scientific minds that only has 25 members.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to help our nation be in the vanguard of global competitiveness through the rapid advancement of science, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation,” Panchanathan said. “It is truly an honor to serve our nation in this capacity.”

Panchanathan holds a B.Sc. in Physics from Vivekananda College at the University of Madras, a B.E. in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, an M.Tech in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Ottawa.

During his time in India, Panchanathan worked for International Software India Ltd., as an engineer. He joined Arizona State University in 1997, as a tenured professor, and has been with the university ever since. He is currently the senior vice president of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, in addition to being “the leader of ASU’s research, entrepreneurship and economic development efforts,” says the school.

Panchanathan has also been a part of over 400 scientific papers, reports, journal articles, and conference presentations. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Society for Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers and the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Created in 1950, the National Science Board operates under the motto of “Supporting Education and Research across all fields of Science and Technology.” Its current chairman is Dan E. Arvizu, and the Board works hand-in-hand with the National Science Foundation. Until October 2012, appointees to the National Science Board had to be approved by the US Senate, but that is no longer the case, meaning Panchanathan’s appointment is effective immediately.

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