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Distinguished alum awards honor ASU’s chief research and innovation officer


Sethuraman Panchanathan - Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise Development

Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan

May 18, 2017

In honor of his extensive contributions to the disciplines of multimedia computing and informatics, and leadership in advancing science and technology globally, Arizona State University’s Chief Research and Innovation Officer Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan has been recognized as a distinguished alumnus by two of his alma maters, the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT Madras) and the University of Ottawa-Canada.

Panchanathan received his master’s degree in electrical engineering from IIT Madras, recently ranked as India’s top engineering school. He earned a doctoral degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Ottawa-Canada where he went on to serve as a faculty member. He founded the Visual Computing and Communications Laboratory at the university and served as principal investigator for large, strategic projects funded by the Federal Centers of Excellence on Telecommunications Research (CITR) and the Provincial Center of Excellence on Telecommunications Research (TRIO).

“We are very proud of the achievements of our Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, both as a leading academic researcher in his field and as a leading academic administrator,” said Professor Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director of IIT Madras. “He has contributed immensely to the growth of ASU in recent years, besides his outstanding work in computing and informatics. IIT Madras derives great satisfaction from leading alumni, such as Panch, who are university builders and world-class academic researchers in top universities across the world.”

The University of Ottawa-Canada named Panchanathan Alumnus of the Year for his contributions as an “administrator, educator, engineer, entrepreneur, inventor, policy advisor and researcher.” Among his other initiatives and accomplishments, the university cited the ASU Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC) as a “testament to [Panchanathan’s] creativity and knowledge.”

Students and researchers in CUbiC design and engineer technologies and devices that assist individuals with disabilities. Several of the center’s technologies and devices have received national and international recognition, including winning the Microsoft Imagine World Cup.

“I am honored and humbled by the recognitions that my alma maters have bestowed upon me,” Panchanathan said. “My time at IIT Madras and the University of Ottawa has shaped my life and career priorities, helping focus my attention on access, excellence and impact. I wish to keep paying it forward and shaping future innovators — students and faculty — who will find creative solutions for societal challenges.”

Panchanathan serves as the executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU and is recognized globally as a leader in education, research and innovation. Under his leadership, ASU’s research enterprise has flourished, rapidly growing to reach nearly $520 million in research expenditures in 2016. U.S. News & World Report named ASU the most innovative school in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016. His professional recognitions include fellowships with scientific and professional organizations such as the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), and the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE).

In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed Panchanathan to the National Science Board for a six-year term, where he currently chairs the Committee on Strategy. He has also served on the U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He is an advisor to Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan as part of her Technology, Transparency and Commerce Council that provides strategic insight on policy matters. 

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