Get to Know Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan

Sethuraman Panchanathan (National Science Board)

  • What is one of your favorite pastimes or hobbies?
    Hiking trails in the Phoenix desert landscape is one of my favorite activities. Biking and other outdoor activities with family and friends are also high on the list.
  • What are you most proud of in your professional life?
    I take a lot of pride in being a part of and witnessing the intellectual and professional journeys of my students. They come from countries around the world as well as all walks of life. Sparking their curiosity and helping them bring their innovative ideas to reality is truly a pleasure.
  • Do you have any advice for students in middle and high school and/or for their parents?
    To students: Never hesitate to ask questions or explore your interests. Choose a profession or a field that excites you and will bring out the best in you.
    To parents: Provide an environment that enables your child to become an independent and creative thinker who is unfazed by challenges.
  • If you could do it all over again, would you? Why or why not?
    I look forward to and enjoy every day of my professional life. I have no regrets whatsoever and would gladly do it all over again.
  • paunchprofilequote

  • What prompted your initial interest in STEM?
    I wanted to design and build things from the time I was a child. Engineering and science seemed to provide the opportunity to satiate my curiosity.
  • What do you see as promising new frontiers or opportunities in science and engineering? What about future challenges?
    We’ve only just begun to explore the symbiotic relationship between man and machine, and its potential to transform human life and experience. The concept of man and machine working together seamlessly can empower and enrich human lives, especially for individuals with disabilities.
  • What do you think individuals who are interested in going into a science or science education career should know?
    Science is a lot of fun. A scientific approach is important to solving many of our complex challenges. The combination of experiments and experiences can not only enrich learning but also help in transforming society.
  • Sethuraman Panchanathan (Arizona State University)

  • What is your greatest failure and how did it help you?
    I was disappointed when I was unable to get into a premier engineering school of my choice right after I graduated from high school. However, I decided to make the best of it and pursue a major in physics. Eventually, I found my way back to engineering. The initial disappointment turned into a new opportunity. It not only boosted my self-confidence in being able to tackle problems but also opened my eyes to the possibilities of interdisciplinary learning and research.
  • What would you like people to know about the National Science Board?
    The National Science Board is committed to working with the National Science Foundation to continue to position United States as a global leader in science and technology.
Get to Know NSB Members
Vinton Cerf
Inez Fung
Sethuraman Panchanathan
"Bud" Peterson
Geri Richmond