Trump nominates Sethuraman Panchanathan to head NSF

Panchanathan would take a leave of absence from ASU if the Senate confirms his position

Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, the Chief Research and Innovation Officer at ASU, has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next Director of the National Science Foundation.  

“I am humbled and honored to receive the news of the President’s intent to nominate me to serve as Director of the National Science Foundation,” Panchanathan said in a statement. 

Gov. Doug Ducey appointed Panchanathan as the senior adviser for science and technology in 2018. Ducey congratulated him over Twitter on Thursday, saying Panchanathan is "a driving force behind our transformation into a research and innovation powerhouse. He’ll do great things."

Panchanathan will succeed current director Dr. France A. Córdova, whose six year term will end next year. 

Córdova said Panchanathan is a great nomination in a statement released by the NSF Thursday.  

"This position requires the ability to connect with all stakeholders in  the U.S. science and engineering community, walking the fine line  between serving and leading," Córdova said. "Panch has the character and knowledge that make him an ideal fit for the job. As my own term draws to a close, I am heartened at the idea of Panch as my successor.”


Panchanathan was appointed to the National Science Board in 2014. He served as chair of the Committee on Strategy, and now serves with the External Engagement and National S&E Policy committees.

Panchanathan was the first American of Indian origin to be appointed to the NSB. 

Panchanathan has a background in physics and computer engineering. He is credited with helping ASU become the fastest-growing research university in the U.S.

As director, Panchanathan would oversee the operations of the NSF, which provides research funding for a range of scientific disciplines.

Panchanathan studied in India and Canada before coming to ASU in 1997. Aside from his other roles at ASU, Panchanathan is also director of the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing and a Foundation Chair in Computing and Informatics at ASU. 

Panchanathan has served on the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Council on Research of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Extreme Innovation Taskforce of the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils.

Panchanathan's nomination must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and if he is confirmed as director he will take a leave of absence from the University, according to ASU spokesperson Katie Paquet. 


Reach the reporter at gmlieber@asu.edu or follow @G_Mira_ on Twitter. 

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