Sethuraman Panchanathan

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Sethuraman Panchanathan
Sethuraman Panchanathan.jpg
Dr. Panchanathan at ASU
15th Director of the National Science Foundation
Assumed office
June 23, 2020 (2020-06-23)
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byKelvin Droegemeier (acting)
France A. Córdova
Personal details
BornChennai, India[1]
NationalityIndian and American
Spouse(s)Soumya Panchanathan[2]
Alma materUniversity of Ottawa
Indian Institute of Technology
Indian Institute of Science
University of Madras
ProfessionExecutive Vice President, ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development and Chief Research Innovation Officer
Known forInformatics
Scientific career
FieldsElectrical and Computer Engineering
InstitutionsUniversity of Ottawa
Arizona State University
ThesisAlgorithms and architectures for image coding using vector quantization (1989)
Doctoral advisorMorris Goldberg

Sethuraman Panchanathan is an American computer scientist and academic administrator, and the 15th Director of National Science Foundation since June 2020 [3]. He previously served as the Executive Vice President, ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development and Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Arizona State University (ASU). He was also Director of the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC), Foundation Chair of Computing and Informatics at ASU and Professor in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering (CIDSE), part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Panchanathan was born and raised in Chennai.[1] He attended the Vivekananda College (University of Madras), graduating in 1981 with a B.Sc. in Physics. Subsequently, in 1984, he earned a B.E. in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India. In 1986, he completed his M.Tech in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He later enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Ottawa, Canada, and received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1989[5] while working under the direction of Morris Goldberg.[6]

Academic career[edit]

After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa in 1989, Panchanathan stayed on at Ottawa as an assistant professor and was later promoted to associate professor in 1994 after receiving tenure.[7]

Panchanathan moved to Arizona in 1997 as a tenured associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at ASU.[8][dead link] In 2001, he was promoted to full professor and founded the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC),[9] which is focused on designing technologies and devices for assisting individuals with disabilities. He also founded and led the School of Computing and Informatics (2006-2009) and the Department of Biomedical Informatics (2005-2007).[9] Panchanathan was appointed as the university Chief Research Officer in 2009, where he was responsible for conceptualizing and building large interdisciplinary initiatives at ASU.[10] In 2011, he was promoted to Senior Vice President of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, for the advancement of research, entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development activities.[11]

In 2016, Panchanathan was promoted to Executive Vice President, ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development and Chief Research and Innovation Officer at ASU. In this role, Dr. Panchanathan leads the advancement of research, innovation, entrepreneurship, corporate engagement and strategic partnerships, and international development. Under his leadership, ASU’s research has grown exponentially, with annual research expenditures quadrupling to more than half a billion dollars over the past 15 years. Continuing on its path as a rapidly growing research enterprise, Arizona State University reported $635 million in research expenditures for fiscal year 2018, up from $545 million in FY17, according to a recent[when?] report by the U.S. National Science Foundation. At that time, ASU was holding its rank at No. 44 for total research expenditures in the U.S., remaining ahead of the California Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago. Among institutions without a medical school, ASU ranked No. 8, ahead of Princeton University and Carnegie Mellon University.[12] In a 2017 Brazilian Congress of Industry Innovation panel discussion, Panchanathan highlighted how universities like ASU ought to work hand-in-hand with businesses to create curriculum that fosters the entrepreneurial traits employers look for today, in order to produce a future of innovation ecosystems.[13] On October 22, 2019, Panchanathan testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather in a hearing titled, “Research and Innovation: Ensuring America's Economic and Strategic Leadership,” examining the role that research and innovation play in ensuring U.S. leadership in the global economy[14].

National Science Foundation[edit]

On June 13, 2014, Panchanathan was nominated by President Barack Obama as a member of the National Science Board of National Science Foundation.[15]

On December 19, 2019, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Panchanathan to replace France Córdova as Director of the National Science Foundation.[16][17] On June 18, 2020, he was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate as the new Director of the National Science Foundation.[18] He assumed office on June 23, 2020.[1]

Research interests[edit]

Dr. Panchanathan presenting at TEDxASU in Tempe.

His research interests include Human-centered Multimedia Computing (HCMC),[19] assistive and rehabilitative technologies,[20] haptic user interfaces, face/gait analysis and recognition, medical image processing, media processor designs and ubiquitous computing environments for enhancing quality of life for individuals with disabilities.[21] His research contributions have been disseminated in over 425 papers in various refereed journals and conferences and edited more than 30 book and book chapters.[22] He is recognized as a leader in the field of human-centered computing and informatics and has an h-index of 46with over 8000 citations.[23] He also mentored over 100 students and scholars, which include graduate students, post-docs, research engineers and research scientists.[24] He spoke on the importance of fostering a culture of innovation to solve grand challenges that society faces today in a 2017 TEDxASU presentation.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Panchanathan is married to Sarada “Soumya” Panchanathan, who was a clinical pediatrician at the Maricopa County Hospital and a part-time biomedical informatics faculty member at both the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix, and at ASU when Panchanathan was employed at ASU.[2] Together they have two children.[4]

Awards, appointments and fellowships[edit]

  • Advisor for Science and Technology to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, 2018.
  • Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Membership for the National Academy of Inventors’ Board of Directors, 2018.
  • Appointed to Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ Board of Directors, 2018.
  • Appointed to the Forbes Technology Council, 2017-2018.
  • Appointed to the National Academy of Inventors Board of Directors, 2017-2018.
  • 20 People to Know in Arizona Education, Phoenix Business Journal, 2017.[26]
  • COO of the Year, Phoenix Business Journal, 2017.[27]
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, 2017.[28]
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Alumni Association Awards of Excellence, University of Ottawa, Canada, 2017.[28]
  • AAAS Fellow, November 2017 [1]
  • Governor’s Innovator of the Year for Academia Award, Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards, Information Technology Centric Assistive and Rehabilitative Environments (iCARE) for Individuals who are Blind and Visually Impaired, Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing, 2004.[29]
  • ASU Leadership Award, “Outstanding service and contributions to the ASU Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the School of Computing and Informatics”, 2009.
  • Academic Collaboration Award, Outstanding Contributions to Improving the lives of Individuals with Disabilities through the iCARE Research Project, ASU Disability Resources for Students, 2004.
  • Best paper award, “Configurable Haptic Training System for Laparoscopy”, at Medicine Meets Virtual Reality 16 Conference, CA, 2008.
  • Canadian Advanced Technology Association (CATA) Best Graduate Thesis Award, Master's Thesis student Mr. Eric Chan, Toronto, 1994.
  • Microsoft Imagine Cup 2010 for CUbiC iCARE Note-Taker Project, World Finals in Touch and Tablet category, Warsaw, Poland, 2010.[30]
  • Appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. National Science Board (NSB) in 2014 for a six-year term.
  • Appointed by Hon. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). Advisor to the Secretary on Advancing Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Workforce Development, Economic Development and Global Competitiveness, 2012–2016.
  • Chair of the Council on Research at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and co-chair of the APLU National Task Force on Managing University Intellectual Property, 2016-2018.
  • Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2009-present. (IEEE).
  • Fellow of the Society for Photo-optical Engineering (SPIE).
  • Fellow of the Canadian National Academy of Engineering.
  • Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors
  • Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science


  • Venkateswara, H.; McDaniel, T.; Tadayon, R.; Panchanathan, S. (2018). "Person-centered Technologies for Individuals with Disabilities: Empowerment through Assistive and Rehabilitative Solutions". Technology and Innovation. 20 (1–2): 117–132. doi:10.21300/20.1-2.2018.117.
  • Panchanathan, S.; Chakraborty, S.; McDaniel, T.; Tadayon, R.; Fakhri, B.; O'Connor, N.; Marsden, M.; Little, S.; McGuinness, K.; Monaghan, D. (2017). "Enriching the Fan Experience in a Smart Stadium Using Internet of Things Technologies". International Journal of Semantic Computing. 11 (2): 137–170. doi:10.1142/S1793351X17400062.
  • H. Venkateswara, S. Chakraborty, and S. Panchanathan, "Deep-Learning Systems for Domain Adaptation in Computer Vision: Learning Transferable Feature Representations," IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, Vol. 34, No. 6, pp. 117-129, 2017.
  • R. Tadayon, T. McDaniel, S. Panchanathan, “A Survey of Multimodal Systems and Techniques for Motor Learning,” Journal of Information Processing Systems, invited manuscript, February 2017.
  • S. Panchanathan, S. Chakraborty, T. McDaniel, R. Tadayon, “Person-Centered Multimedia Computing: A New Paradigm Inspired by Assistive and Rehabilitative Applications,” IEEE Multimedia Magazine, Vol. 23, pp. 12–19, August 2016.
  • S. Panchanathan, S. Chakraborty, T. McDaniel, "Social Interaction Assistant: A Person-Centered Approach to Enrich Social Interactions for Individuals With Visual Impairments," IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Signal Processing, Vol. 10(5), pp. 942–951, 2016.
  • S. Chakraborty, V. Balasubramanian, and S. Panchanathan, “Adaptive Batch Mode Active Learning,” IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems (TNNLS), Vol. 26(8), pp. 1747–1760, 2015.
  • S. Chakraborty, V. Balasubramanian, Q. Sun, S. Panchanathan, and J. Ye, “Active Batch Selection via Convex Relaxations with Guaranteed Solution Bounds,” IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, Vol. 37(10), pp. 1945–1958, 2015.
  • S. Panchanathan, and T. McDaniel, “Person-centered accessible technologies and computing solutions through interdisciplinary and integrated perspectives from disability research,” International Journal Universal Access in the Information Society – Special Issue on User Experience and Access using Augmented and Multimedia Technologies, Vol. 14(3), pp. 415–426, 2014.
  • V. Balasubramanian, S. Chakraborty and S. Panchanathan, “Conformal Predictions for Information Fusion,” Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence, Vol. 74, (1–2), pp. 45–65, 2014.
  • S. Chakraborty, V. Balasubramanian, S. Panchanathan, “Generalized Batch Mode Active Learning for Biometric Recognition” accepted for publication Pattern Recognition Journal, Elsevier, 2013.
  • R. Chattopadhyay, Z. Wang, W. Fan, I. Davidson, S. Panchanathan, J. Ye, “Batch Mode Active Sampling based on Marginal Probability Distribution Matching,” Invited Paper. Accepted for publication in ACM Transactions on Knowledge Discovery from Data (TKDD) - Special Issue on the Best of SIGKDD, 2013.
  • S. Panchanathan, T. McDaniel, V. Balasubramanian, “An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Design, Development and Deployment of Person-Centered Accessible Technologies,” Invited Keynote Paper. Accepted for publication in the proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Recent Trends in Information Technology (ICRTIT), 2013.
  • S. Panchanathan, T. McDaniel, V. Balasubramanian, “Person-centered accessible technologies: Improved usability and adaptation through inspirations from disability research,” in Proceedings of the ACM Workshop on User Experience in e-Learning and Augmented Technologies in Education, 2012.
  • R. Chattopadhyay, Q. Sun, W. Fan, I. Davidson, S. Panchanathan, and J. Ye, “Multi-Source Domain Adaptation and Its Application to Early Detection of Fatigue,” ACM Trans. on Knowledge Discovery from Data (TKDD), 2012.
  • R. Chattopadhyay, M. Jesunathadas, B. Poston, M. Santello, J. Ye, and S. Panchanathan, “A Subject-Independent Method for Automatically Grading Electromyographic Features during a Fatiguing Contraction,” IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, Vol. 59(6), pp. 1749, 2012.
  • S. Kumar, C. Konikoff, B. Van Emden, C. Busick, K. Davis, S. Ji, L. Wu, T. Brody, J. Ye, S. Panchanathan, T. Karr, K. Gerold, M. McCutchan, and S. Newfeld, “Flyexpress: Visual Mining Of Spatiotemporal Patterns for Genes and Publications in Drosophila Embryogenesis,” Bioinformatics, Vol. 27(23), pp. 3319–3320, 2011.
  • J. Rosenthal, N. Edwards, D. Villanueva, S. Krishna, T. McDaniel, and S. Panchanathan, “Design, Implementation, and Case Study of a Pragmatic Vibrotactile Belt,” IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, Vol. 60(1), pp. 114–125, 2011.
  • S. Chakraborty, V. Balasubramanian and S. Panchanathan, et al. “On the Results of the First Mobile Biometry (MOBIO) Face and Speaker Verification Evaluation”. Lecture Notes in Computer Science Vol. 6388, pp. 210 – 225, 2010.
  • L. Gade, S. Krishna, and S. Panchanathan, “Person Localization in a Wearable Camera Platform Towards Assistive Technology for Social Interactions,” Special Issue of Media Solutions that Improve Accessibility to Disabled Users, Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal, Vol. 5, pp. 52–69, 2010.
  • M. Vankipuram, K. Kahol, A. McLaren, and S. Panchanathan, “A Virtual Reality Simulator for Orthopedic Basic Skills: A Design and Validation Study,” Journal of Biomedical Informatics, Vol. 43(5), pp. 661–668, 2010.
  • N. C. Krishnan, D. Colbry, C. Juillard and S. Panchanathan, “Recognition of Hand Movements Using Wearable Accelerometers,” Special Issue on Wearable Computing, Journal of Ambient Intelligent and Smart Environments, Vol. 1(2), pp. 143–155, 2009.
  • S. Panchanathan, N. Krishnan, S. Krishna, T. McDaniel, V. Balasubramanian, “Enriched human-centered multimedia computing through inspirations from disabilities and deficit-centered computing solutions,” in Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Human-Centered Computing, 2008, pp. 35–42.
  • R. Greenes, and S. Panchanathan, “Biomedical Informatics in the Desert–A New and Unique Program at Arizona State University,” IMIA Yearbook of Medical Informatics, pp. 150–156, 2008.
  • D. Homa, K. Kahol, P. Tripathi, L. Bratton and S. Panchanathan, “Haptic Concepts in the Blind,” Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, Vol. 71(4), pp. 690–698, 2008.
  • K. Kahol, M. Leyba, M. Deka, V. Deka, S. Mayes, M. Smith, J. Ferrara, and S. Panchanathan, “Effect of Fatigue on Psychomotor and Cognitive Skills,” American Journal of Surgery, Vol. 195 (2), pp. 195–204, 2008.
  • Balasubramanian, V.; Krishna, S.; Panchanathan, S. (2008). "Person–Independent Head Pose Estimation Using Biased Manifold Embedding". EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing. 2008: 63. doi:10.1155/2008/283540.
  • Kahol, K.; Panchanathan, S. (2008). "Neuro-cognitively Inspired Haptic User Interfaces". Multimedia Tools and Applications. 37 (1): 15–38. doi:10.1007/s11042-007-0167-y. S2CID 6069223.


  1. ^ a b c Calvarese, Trisha (June 23, 2020). "Leader of AI breakthroughs, champion of innovation and inclusivity". National Science Foundation. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Soumya Panchanathan (Maricopa Integrated Health System) | Biomedical Informatics". Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  3. ^ "New director takes helm at National Science Foundation". National Science Foundation. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Executive profile: Sethuraman Panchanathan of ASU - Phoenix Business Journal". January 6, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  5. ^ "Program Chair | Internet and Multimedia Systems and Applications | August 17 – 19, 2009 | Honolulu, Hawaii, USA". IASTED. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  6. ^ Panchanathan, Sethuraman (1989). Algorithms and architectures for image coding using vector quantization (Ph.D. thesis). University of Ottawa (Canada). hdl:10393/5805. OCLC 872322075. ProQuest 89193507.
  7. ^ Panchanathan, Sethuraman. "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Arizona State University.
  8. ^ "Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan". ASU News. November 14, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Fourth International Conference on Digital Information Management ICDIM 2009". Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  10. ^ "Panchanathan to facilitate ASU research opportunities". ASU News. February 4, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  11. ^ "Panchanathan named senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development". ASU News. October 9, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  12. ^ "Most Innovative Schools". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on January 29, 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  13. ^ SESSÃO - INDÚSTRIA DO FUTURO: RISCOS E OPORTUNIDADES PARA O BRASIL DIANTE DAS INOVAÇÕES DISRUPTIVAS [Session - Future industry: Risks and opportunities for Brazil before disruptive innovations]. Confederação Nacional da Indústria. July 12, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2017 – via YouTube.
  14. ^ "Research and Innovation: Ensuring America's Economic and Strategic Leadership". United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. October 22, 2019. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  15. ^ "Obama names IITian Sethuraman Panchanathan to Science Foundation board". IANS. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
  16. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Individual to Key Administration Post". The White House. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  17. ^ Leingang, Rachel (December 19, 2019). "ASU head of research Sethuraman Panchanathan nominated to lead National Science Foundation". Arizona Republic.
  18. ^ "APLU Applauds Confirmation of Sethuraman Panchanathan as Director of the National Science Foundation". Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. June 18, 2020.
  19. ^ Panchanathan, Sethuraman (March 19, 2013). "What comes after the computer chip? Better brain-computer interfaces". Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  20. ^ "ASU team uses computer science to aid lives of the disabled". Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  21. ^ "Mayo Clinic/ASU Collaboration Announcement Bios | ASU News". July 1, 2002. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  22. ^ "Dr. Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan Speaking at the One Globe 2013 Conference". YouTube. July 19, 2013. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  23. ^ "Sethuraman Panchanathan". Google Scholar. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  24. ^ "Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan | ASU News". November 14, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  25. ^ TEDx Talks (May 5, 2017), Solutions to Grand Challenges Demand Innovation | Sethuraman Panchanathan | TEDxASU, retrieved June 8, 2017
  26. ^ "20 People to Know in Arizona Education". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  27. ^ "COO of the Year". Phoenix Business Journal.
  28. ^ a b "Distinguished alum awards honor ASU's chief research and innovation officer". ASU Now: Access, Excellence, Impact. May 18, 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  29. ^ "Sethuraman Panchanathan, Ph.D. - Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium". August 13, 2013. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  30. ^ "Team Note-Taker presents at Imagine Cup 2011". Tom On Tech. July 10, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2014.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
France A. Córdova
15th Director of the National Science Foundation