Trump nominates Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan as Director of National Science Foundation

Dr Sethuraman Panchanathan by AZ-SolarSummitIV

Indian American scientist to lead foremost US agency supporting fundamental research & education.

President Donald Trump intends to nominate Indian-American engineer-scientist Dr Sethuraman Panchanathan as Director of the National Science Foundation, the White House has announced.

On confirmation by the Senate, Dr. Panchanathan, a graduate of Indian Institute of Science (1984) and Indian Institute of Technology (1986) will  lead the US government’s foremost agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering.

With a budget of nearly $ 8 billion, the NSF is said to fund approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by the US colleges and universities. In some fields, such as mathematics, computer science, economics, and the social sciences, the NSF is the major source of federal backing.

The Founding Director of the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing at Arizona State University, Panchanathan is currently the University’s Executive Vice President and the Chief Research and Innovation Officer.

Panchanathan is the second Indian-American to head the prestigious 70-year old foundation after Dr Subra Suresh, like him a Chennai-born IIT-ian, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2010, but left after three years.

The outgoing NSF director Dr. France A. Córdova, another Obama appointee, is just concluding her six-year term.

A physics undergrad of University of Chennai’s Vivekananda College, Panchanathan is a Fellow of the National Association of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Society of Optical Engineering.

The Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC) that he founded in Arizona in 2001 focuses on designing technologies and devices for assisting individuals with disabilities. Among the disabilities the lab attempts to ease are impaired vision, stroke and autism.

Like his predecessors Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Obama, Trump too has named several Indian Americans for key jobs.

Among his picks are Rita Baranwal, who is the Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy), and Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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