ASU’s chief of research and innovation appointed to National Academy of Inventors board

August 10, 2016

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has appointed Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development and chief research and innovation officer at Arizona State University, to its Board of Directors for 2016-2017. Panchanathan is one of three NAI Fellows to have been named to the board.

“All three of our newest board members embody the spirit of honoring the inventive academic community and bring talent, expertise and energy to the table. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to grow and better serve our membership within the academy,” said Paul R. Sanberg, president of the National Academy of Inventors.  Sethuraman Panchanathan - Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise Development Download Full Image

The appointment is the latest in a growing list of honors for Panchanathan, who leads research, innovation, strategic partnerships, entrepreneurship, and global and economic development at ASU. In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed him to the U.S. National Science Board. Panchanathan also serves on the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, appointed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. In March 2016, Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan named him to the Technology, Transparency and Commerce Council.

“Both NAI and ASU believe in raising the visibility of academic research and innovation, and translating that intellectual property into meaningful benefits for the larger society,” said Panchanathan. “This appointment helps me join forces with my peers from other institutions to further advance that goal." 

In addition to serving as a professor and foundation chair in computing and informatics, Panchanathan is the director of the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC) at ASU. He was also instrumental in founding the School of Computing and Informatics as well as the Biomedical Informatics department at ASU.

Panchanathan’s research interests involve human-centered multimedia computing, haptic user interfaces, person-centered tools and ubiquitous computing technologies that enhance quality of life, especially for individuals with disabilities. 

The National Academy of Inventors is a nonprofit member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with more than 3,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 200 institutions, and growing rapidly. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. The nonprofit recently named ASU among the top 50 universities worldwide granted U.S. patents in 2015.

ASU engineer earns medal of merit from Macedonian president

August 11, 2016

An Arizona State University engineer has a knack for earning awards from heads of state.

In 1991, as a high school student in the United States, Kiril Hristovski earned an award from President George H. W. Bush for outstanding academic achievement and excellence in the presidential academic fitness program. Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (right) presents ASU engineer Kiril Hristovski with a Medal of Merit for Macedonia on July 20 at the Presidential Villa Biljana in Ohrid, Macedonia. Photo by Aleksandar Atanasov/Courtesy of the Macedonian president’s office Download Full Image

Now 25 years later, Hristovski received a Medal of Merit for Macedonia, the highest recognition a civilian can earn from the government of Macedonia.

Hristovski was presented the award on July 20 by Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov during a ceremony at the Presidential Villa Biljana in Ohrid, Macedonia.

“The same intense emotions, though mixed with nostalgia, came back during the ceremony in Ohrid,” said Hristovski, an associate professor in environmental engineering and management at the Polytechnic School in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

He was the only representative from the Americas, and among four recipients, including two Macedonian poets and a humanitarian devoted to improving Macedonian communities and diplomacy in Serbia.

The award recognizes contributions to the preservation and affirmation of the historical and cultural traditions of Macedonia, Hristovski’s country of origin.

President Ivanov recognized Hristovski during the ceremony for his contributions in nanotechnology, calling it “the big theme for the smallest things.” The president complimented him for his academic and scientific achievements, and for being a positive example for young scientists.

“I expect many to follow him in engaging in the global competition of knowledge, ideas and technology,” said Ivanov.

Environmental research in Macedonia

Hristovski has long tackled research related to environmental issues in Macedonia. This research has resulted in the publication of scientific papers in several fields, including solid waste, water resources and environmental management.

The latest paper, recently published in the International Water Association’s Journal of Water and Health, examines potential health and emergency management implications from climate change and water resources depletion in Macedonia by analyzing empirical data sets collected over a period of 50 years.

Hristovski’s findings suggest decreases in available water quality and resources, while predicting increases in local temperatures, frequency of extreme weather events and water-related health outbreaks. The paper also reveals that the existing emergency management system in Macedonia is not prepared to adequately respond to the anticipated gloomy scenarios caused by climate change.

“Unfortunately, our grim predictions became reality in last week’s extreme weather event,” said Hristovski, referencing a thunderstorm in Skopje, Macedonia, which caused flash flooding that claimed the lives of more than 20 people, and threatened the existing potable water sources.

“We are hopeful that our findings will initiate reforms in the Macedonian environmental and emergency management systems — leading to improved resiliency and better responses to future anthropogenic or climate-change-induced emergencies,” said Hristovski. His colleagues at ASU are open to collaborating with and assisting the Macedonian institutions to ensure a safer future for the country.

Besides his expertise in the areas of management and quality of water, solid and hazardous waste, and emergency situations, Hristovski is a leader in applying nanotechnology and nanomaterials to the purification of water resources.

His research team is working on new technologies using nanomaterials that will enable more efficient water-treatment devices that are smaller and more sustainable, economical and flexible. This includes the development of hybrid nanomaterials, which can remove arsenic and other contaminants from the water

“Many countries do not have well-developed infrastructure for treatment and transport of water, especially in rural areas, such as Macedonia,” said Hristovski. These areas could greatly benefit from treatment technologies based on nanomaterials.

Hristovski has more than 40 scientific papers and several patent applications in this area.

Fostering international collaboration

The award not only recognizes Hristovski’s achievements in his field, but also his role as an ambassador for Macedonia.

Speaking of the recipients’ accomplishments, President Ivanov said, “Every success is your success for Macedonia.”

In 2001, as a young chemical engineer, Hristovski left Macedonia to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees at ASU. After graduation he stayed at the university to continue his successful career as a faculty member.

“As a professor at the largest university in the United States, I have the opportunity to promote the Macedonian culture, language, history and nation not only through direct contacts and discussions with colleagues and students from around the world, but also through my teaching and research,” said Hristovski.

He hopes to raise the quality of science and engineering education in his country of origin by “creating bridges of cooperation” between Macedonian and Arizonian universities.

In 2013, Hristovski initiated a collaboration between ASU and the Macedonian military academy Mihailo Apostolski based in Skopje, which resulted in an official Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration between the two institutions. A year later, this effort led to the establishment of a similar platform for collaboration with the state university Goce Delcev in Stip, Macedonia.

Several joint papers and a research proposal have already come out of these collaborations, and several others are in the final stages of preparation before submission.

Hristovski said this recognition is “a great motivator for expanding ASU’s collaboration with institutions in Macedonia and across the world.”

Rose Gochnour Serago

Communications Program Coordinator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering