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The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Sethuraman Panchanathan, a senior administrator at Arizona State University, as the new director of the National Science Foundation, a leading funder of academic research.

Panchanathan has been a member of the National Science Board, the body that advises the NSF, since 2014. He was the first American of Indian origin to be appointed to the board. He is currently the executive vice president of knowledge enterprise development and chief research and innovation officer at Arizona State.

In a statement Thursday, the president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Peter McPherson, said, “We’re thrilled that Sethuraman Panchanathan has been confirmed as director of the National Science Foundation. Dr. Panchanathan assumes the post at a critical time and we’re confident he’s more than up to the job of ensuring the United States remains the world’s leading center of scientific discovery and innovation."