The world’s most pressing issues, such as the climate catastrophe and the use of technology as a force for good, will necessitate continuous international collaboration, according to a world-renowned scientist and the director of the US National Science Foundation.
The director of the US National Science Foundation, Sethuraman Panchanathan, addressed at the Association of International Education Administrators’ 40th annual conference in New Orleans about the NSF’s mission’s durability. “It has stood the test of time. For over seven decades, it has guided us, led us, motivated us, and inspired us,” he said.
From February 20 to 23, almost 500 foreign educators from 27 nations met in the Louisiana city for the event. It was many people’s first in-person conference since the Covid-19 outbreak began. The director spoke about the NSF’s three central pillars, the first of which is the advancement of research frontiers into the future. The hundreds of educators gathered in the Grand Ballroom applauded loudly when Panchanathan articulated the second pillar, assuring accessibility and inclusivity.
He referred to underprivileged communities as “missing millions,” pleading that we cannot, must not, and should not continue to have educational possibilities available just to a select few. He stated that talent and ideas should be democratized “across the nation’s 50 states, across a broad socioeconomic population.”
“We have to make sure that talent everywhere is inspired and motivated all the way from K to 12, through community colleges, universities, and beyond. An opportunity has to be for everyone,” he said.
The third pillar, ensuring global leadership, was deemed the most crucial by Panchanathan, who explained, “Securing global leadership does not mean America is the leader of the rest of the world.”
“What I mean by securing global leadership is partnering with countries who are like-minded, who shared our values, as a partnership can strengthen the experience,” he added.
The director of the US National Science Foundation mentioned NSF innovation and funding in his description of worldwide leadership, from the department’s inception through current initiatives and future priorities. He noted NSF funding and initiatives that contributed to the establishment of Google, 3D printing, and technology that saved lives during the pandemic, including the PCR test, personal protective equipment, and ventilator parts.
Panchanathan cited NSF international collaboration developments such as the particle accelerator in Switzerland, high-powered telescopes in Chile, the International Ocean Discovery Program with Japan, and programs at McMurdo and Palmer Stations in Antarctica, citing “tremendous partnerships from around the world that make unbelievable innovations possible.”
He expressed great gratitude for the Biden-Harris administration’s initiatives, saying, “I’m most appreciative for the tremendous bipartisan support because it’s a rare moment in our nation.” Panchanathan stated that the NSF will be concentrating its efforts in the future on climate issues such as adaptation, mitigation, resilience, and equity.
The National Research Foundation (NSF) was established by Congress in 1950 as an independent government organization tasked with advancing science, enhancing the country’s health, wealth, and welfare, and protecting the country’s national defence. Panchanathan, a computer scientist and engineer, was overwhelmingly appointed director of the National Science Foundation by Congress in 2019.
In concluding, Panchanathan emphasized the importance of NSF and AIEA collaboration and urged AIEA leaders to offer not only difficulties but also ideas and solutions that can be adopted by NSF and other organizations. So that we can change the future with strength and speed as a group.
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