Senator Todd Young and NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan visit Notre Dame to discuss critical investments in science and technology

Author: Brett Beasley

Senator Todd Young and NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan with NSF CAREER awardees. From left to right: Siddharth Joshi, assistant professor, Computer Science and Engineering; Yi-Ting Hsu, assistant professor, Physics and Astronomy; Paola Crippa, assistant professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, joint appointment in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics; Sethuraman Panchanathan; Todd Young; Katharine White, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Matthew Zahr, assistant professor, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering; Adam Jaffe, assistant professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Senator Todd Young and NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan with NSF CAREER awardees. From left to right: Siddharth Joshi, Yi-Ting Hsu, Paola Crippa, Sethuraman Panchanathan, Todd Young, Katharine White, Matthew Zahr, Adam Jaffe

On Thursday, April 25, Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), joined U.S. Senator Todd Young in a visit to the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The pair met with faculty, students, and University leaders and discussed how research and innovation can drive better policymaking, grow the local economy, and contribute to national security.

Senator Young explained, "As I travel around the state, I am inspired by the quality of students and the quality of research at our universities—and we have that at Notre Dame. Some of the best research in the country is happening here. That is exactly why I thought it was important that the director of the National Science Foundation come to Indiana, see it for himself, and meet many of the researchers whose projects have been funded by the NSF."

Panchanathan, who was appointed as the 15th director of the NSF in 2020, stressed that his agency invests in discovery, curiosity, and exploratory research with the aim of serving not just researchers but all of humanity.

"Pick any technology that we rely on today, and chances are the NSF had a hand in supporting its development," Panchanathan explained. “Artificial intelligence, for example, which we hear so much about today, was sustained by investments from the NSF for almost six decades."

During his visit, Panchanathan was welcomed by senior Notre Dame leaders, including University President-elect Rev. Robert A. Dowd, C.S.C., and John T. McGreevy, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost. Panchanathan also met with Notre Dame faculty members who were recently awarded through the NSF's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program.

A final session focused on wireless technology and highlighted ways Notre Dame researchers are partnering with the local community. South Bend Mayor James Mueller and Chief Innovation Officer Denise Linn Riedl joined Notre Dame Wireless Institute co-directors Nicholas Laneman and Bertrand Hochwald to discuss how researchers are working with the city to enhance the region's innovation ecosystem. Hochwald and Laneman, both professors in the Department of Electrical Engineering, discussed Notre Dame’s history as the site of the nation’s first long-distance wireless transmission and its current work leading SpectrumX, the NSF Spectrum Innovation Initiative Center.

Several Notre Dame graduate student recipients of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship were also able to discuss their projects with Panchanathan and Young.

Panchanathan reflected that "the future is always about the young talent, the young minds. And I can tell you that when I meet students all across the country, I have no doubts that our country will be at the vanguard of innovation."

Panchanathan also commented on the University of Notre Dame and its ongoing relationship with the NSF.

"Notre Dame is a fantastic institution," Panchanathan said. "It is a place of great ideas and tremendous talent. But it is also founded on values and is committed to serving humanity. At the NSF, we find that when you pursue research and commit to serving others, you find a new dimension of excitement and possibility."

Notre Dame Research hosted this visit together with Notre Dame’s Office of Federal and Washington Relations, which serves as a resource and connection point for all members of the Notre Dame community, including faculty, current students, alumni, and friends of the University. To learn more about Notre Dame’s work and opportunities in the nation’s capital, please visit