Sethuraman Panchanathan, an Indian American computer scientist and engineer, has been announced as the speaker for Northeastern University’s 2024 graduate student commencement on May 5. The ceremony will take place at Fenway Park in Boston.

Panchanathan, who assumed the role of director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in June 2020, will address the graduating class. The NSF, a federal agency with a budget of approximately $9.5 billion, focuses on advancing scientific discovery, technological innovation, and STEM education in the United States.

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern, emphasized the importance of science in addressing global challenges and acknowledged the pivotal role of agencies like the NSF. He praised Panchanathan’s leadership in recognizing the significance of cutting-edge science, particularly artificial intelligence.

Panchanathan previously attended the grand opening of Northeastern’s EXP research complex on the Boston campus last October. Impressed by the university’s commitment to providing top-notch educational opportunities, he expressed his delight in returning to celebrate this year’s graduates.

In a recent editorial in the scientific journal PNAS Nexus, Panchanathan advocated for the responsible and equitable development of artificial intelligence. He highlighted the NSF’s substantial investment in AI research and emphasized the importance of fostering innovation in this field.

Despite acknowledging the challenges associated with artificial intelligence, Panchanathan emphasized the need to accelerate innovation rather than slow down. He stressed the importance of confronting challenges head-on and developing innovative solutions to address them.

Prior to his appointment as NSF director, Panchanathan held leadership positions at Arizona State University, where he was involved in research and innovation initiatives. He has a distinguished academic career and has made significant contributions to the field of computer science.