Panchanathan named senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development

October 9, 2011

Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, ASU’s deputy senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development, university chief research oficer, and professor in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, has been named senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development, ASU President Michael M. Crow announced.  

Panchanathan succeeds R. F. “Rick” Shangraw, who was named CEO and president of the ASU Foundation for a New American University. Download Full Image

In his new position, Panchanathan oversees ASU’s growing annual research portfolio, currently at a nearly $350 million, ranking ASU as one of the top 20 research institutions in the country without a medical school. The university’s major interdisciplinary research institutes and initiatives are part of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED). These include the Biodesign Institute, Global Institute of Sustainability, Flexible Display Center, LightWorks, Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative and Decision Theater. 

“Panch is a valued member of ASU’s senior management team who has compiled a record of outstanding achievement in a variety of positions, including as the university’s chief research officer in OKED,” Crow said. “He is a very successful academic and has garnered national and international reputation. Panch is an excellent example of leader-scholar. He is the perfect person to continue the momentum that Rick has built in our research enterprise and take it to its stated goal of having a research portfolio of $700 million.”

“I am thrilled to be a part of the team realizing the New American University vision of President Crow and building a world class knowledge enterprise at Arizona State University,” Panchanathan said. “It’s an honor to work with the outstanding caliber faculty, researchers and students at ASU advancing research, economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship activities.

"I am grateful to Dr. Shangraw for his excellent vision and leadership which has propelled ASU into the league of top research universities. It has been a privilege to work with Rick. I look forward to accelerating the momentum and building a successful knowledge enterprise at ASU.”

Panchanathan is a foundation chair in Computing and Informatics, and director of the Center on Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC). He was the founding director of the School of Computing and Informatics and instrumental in founding the Biomedical Informatics Department at ASU. He also was the chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department and the operational leader for the Biomedicine@ASU Initiative in the Office of the Provost.

His research interests are in the areas of human-centered multimedia computing, designing ubiquitous computing environments for enhancing quality of life for individuals with disabilities, health informatics, human-centered multimedia computing, and haptic (touch-based) user interfaces. He has published more than 400 papers and has mentored more than 100 graduate students, post-docs, research engineers and research scientists who occupy leading positions in academia and industry.

Panchanathan founded the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC), which is a transdisciplinary research center that is focused on the design and development of novel devices and technologies for improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. CUbiC’s flagship project, iCARE, won the Governor’s Innovator of the Year Academia Award in 2004. His team also has won other prestigious awards such as the Microsoft Imagine World Cup.

He has been a chair, invited speaker and panel member in many international conferences. He was the editor-in-chief of IEE Multimedia magazine and is on the editorial board of several professional journals. 

Panchanathan was invited to the US-India Business Council team that was part of President Obama’s executive mission to India for exploring innovation and economic development opportunities. He was a member of the Electronic Health Steering Committee appointed by the Governor of Arizona to define the roadmap for the future of e-health.  He also was part of a select team of experts invited by former Gov. Napolitano on her visit to Canada to explore academic, industrial and governmental partnerships. Panchanathan is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Society of Optical Engineering (SPIE) and a member of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

Before the crisis: Campus safety group offers education, support

October 10, 2011

Imagine looking through emails at 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday when you are startled by a coworker a few cubicles away cursing and slamming desk drawers shut while ranting about a new departmental change he doesn’t believe is fair. As the volume of his voice rises, he makes threats to those nearby who attempt to calm him down.

You may be thinking to yourself, should I confront him? Should I call 911? Should I leave the area immediately?  A person is holding a smart phone with the web browser on the ASU emergecny page Download Full Image

Support is available to deal with a violent or threatening circumstance or person at Arizona State University (ASU). The ASU Behavior Response Team (BRT) was designed to combat staff-related workplace issues and consists of employees from across the university who work together to quell and investigate violent or threatening individuals or situations. Professionals who comprise the BRT include department managers, staff from the ASU Police, Employee Assistance, the Office of General Counsel, and the Office of Human Resources.

“Threats that appear to be imminent should be reported to the ASU Police Department by calling 911 without delay,” said Kevin Salcido, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at ASU. “A person who overhears or witnesses a violent or threating dispute should trust their instincts during the moment and err on the side of caution.”

Since every volatile situation is different, the priority when deciding whether or not to confront the person who is acting erratically always is to first consider the safety of the campus community.

“The vast majority of workplace/campus violence incidents are perpetrated by someone who already has exhibited threatening behavior,” Salcido adds. “In other words, people are rarely surprised after the incident, and many people say that they ‘saw it coming’.”

According to Richard Wilson, ASU Police Assistant Chief, in the early 1990s when the BRT was just forming, there was a staff member who was escalating toward violence and was headed to campus with several firearms.

“Because the team had been monitoring the situation and developed relationships with people close to the individual, we had enough warning to intercept this person and diffuse the situation before anything bad occurred,” Wilson said.

To help stave off a potentially volatile circumstance, there are some common signs that vigilant observers can take notice of that may indicate when a person may be in need of support. According to Salcido, some traits to look for in others includes aggressiveness, irritability, a notable change in hygiene or personal appearance, the vocalization or written obsessions with guns or weaponry, or a marked change in work or classroom performance.

Understanding these characteristics can be helpful to ASU employees when they contact BRT members. People also can remain anonymous when making a report via email or telephone through the ASU hotline. While having situational facts such as date, time, and location on hand during an emergency beforehand can help, it is not necessary.

“The focus should not be what we are looking for – but rather – what are we looking at,” Wilson said. “We also must recognize that our goal is not singularly focused on managing an individual – what we are doing is looking at the individual in the context of a situation. That is why having a multi-discipline team is so important because we each bring different expertise to the table regarding safety, human behavior, policy and labor law that allows us to weigh our options and arrive at strategies that are fair, objective, reasonable and timely.”

If campus groups or individuals want to learn more about BRT operations and how to identify behavioral warning signs, a downloadable flier is accessible online. In-person and online training sessions also are options. For ASU employees, BRT professionals lead one to one-and-a-half hour training sessions. During the presentation, attendees learn about the team’s overview and goals as well as the signs, symptoms, and resources in addressing troubling circumstances on campus.

“I don’t think that people need to be experts in handling disruptive behavior on their own, they just need to be aware that if they find themselves confronted with a concern about someone’s wellbeing, they know who to call to help them through that process successfully,” says Jillian McManus, Director, Organizational Health and Development within the HR Employee Assistance Office.

Beyond courses and materials that the BRT offers, other emergency response resources accessible from the ASU home page include:

• The ASU emergency web page:

• The ASU Alert service sends notifications about campus-wide emergencies. ASU Alert also has a Twitter account: @asualert.

• The ASU Advisory system sends mid-level emergency announcements about building closures or small fires.

Each text-messaging service requires separate enrollment and may involve a cost depending on an individual’s cell phone plan. To access both systems, click on the ASU Alert icon on the ASU home page. Read more about each system on ASU News.

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group