Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development and chief research and innovation officer at Arizona State University, has been appointed vice president of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) to strategically advance research, innovation, entrepreneurship and education through invention.
"The National Academy of Inventors is thrilled to have Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan take on the role of vice president of strategic initiatives and membership,” said Paul Sanberg, NAI president. “His intellect, energy and passion for innovation are unparalleled. We are delighted to have him not only as a member of our board of directors, but more importantly as vice president responsible for advancing and shaping the future of NAI. I look forward to his partnership and leadership.”
Founded in 2010, the NAI is a coalition of more than 250 national and international universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes. Its stated mission is to recognize and encourage inventors issued patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, raise visibility of academic technologies, mentor students and turn the inventions of its members into benefits for society.
“I am honored to take on this role and excited to further the NAI’s mission to advance the innovative spirit globally, recognize inventors, mentor young minds and translate academic findings to meaningful solutions for society,” Panchanathan said.
ASU is one of NAI’s nine sustaining member institutions. Under Panchanathan’s leadership, ASU launched its own NAI chapter to promote invention and recognize innovation across the university. In 2017–18, the chapter boasted 46 members, including 12 new ones.
This selection adds to a series of prestigious national appointments Panchanathan has received. In 2014, he became the first American of Indian origin to join the National Science Board (NSB), appointed by President Barack Obama. That same year, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker appointed him to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Panchanathan has chaired the Committee of Strategy and Budget at the NSB as well as the Council of Research at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities among many other appointments. He has also served as the co-chair of the Taskforce on Extreme Innovation at the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils.
In addition to advancing the mission of research and development during his service on multiple boards and committees, Panchanathan brings decades of experience in mentorship to his new position at the NAI. In the course of his career, he’s mentored nearly 150 graduate students, postdoctoral students and researchers, many of whom have gone on to hold leading positions in both academia and industry.
As a prolific inventor, Panchanathan has obtained several patents and copyrights and published close to 450 papers in prestigious journals and conferences. His research interests include human-centered multimedia computing, haptic user interfaces, person-centered tools and ubiquitous computing technologies, and machine learning in multimedia. His interest in assistive and adaptive technologies led him to found the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC), which has birthed a number of devices aimed at enhancing the quality of life for persons with disabilities, one of which won the Governor’s Innovator of the Year – Academia award in 2004.
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