Trump Announces Picks to Replace Outgoing Leaders at NSF, CISA

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The administration plans to nominate a replacement for the National Science Foundation director and appoint a new assistant director for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

The Trump administration intends to tap a member of the National Science Board to succeed the outgoing director of the National Science Foundation when her term ends in 2020.

As current NSF Director France Cordova’s six-year term comes to a close, the president announced Thursday his intent to nominate Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan to lead the agency for the next six years.

Panchanathan has been a member of the National Science Board, which sets the agenda for NSF’s research priorities, since 2014. He is also the executive vice president and chief research and innovation officer for Arizona State University and founding director of the university’s Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing.

Panchanathan’s credentials in the scientific research arena are extensive, and NSF and administration officials praised the pick Thursday.

“The impending formal nomination of Dr. Panchanathan is a win for science in the Trump Administration and a win for America. Dr. Panchanathan brings to this position a wealth of experience in research, innovation, academic administration, and policy as exemplified by his long and distinguished career,” Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said. “As the Trump administration continues its undeterred focus on ensuring American global leadership in science and technology, Dr. Panchanathan’s commitment, creativity, and deep insights will be instrumental in leading the National Science Foundation on its continued path of exploration and discovery.”

Cordova offered her support for Panchanathan in a statement Thursday, saying he will be a worthy successor.

“For five years, Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan has been a bold, energizing presence on the National Science Board and he was a leader in every sense of the word in the research community prior to that,” she said. “I was delighted to learn that the White House named him as nominee to serve as the next director of the National Science Foundation. This position requires the ability to connect with all stakeholders in the U.S. science and engineering community, walking the fine line between serving and leading. Panch has the character and knowledge that make him an ideal fit for the job. As my own term draws to a close, I am heartened at the idea of Panch as my successor.”

Diane Souvaine, who chairs the National Science Board, echoed Cordova’s praise.

“He is the best kind of disruptor, one who understands that the best way to predict the future is to invent it,” she said. “In working together with the National Science Board, I have been impressed with his care for and understanding of the National Science Foundation’s unique mission. I saw the same qualities in our current director, Dr. France Cordova, and they have underpinned her exceptional leadership.”

Officials were also effusive in their appreciation for Cordova’s work during her term.

“I’d like to thank the outgoing NSF director, Dr. France Cordova, for her tireless service in a variety of scientific leadership roles at home and abroad. Dr. Cordova has been an exceptional leader and will be leaving NSF in capable and effective hands,” Droegemeier said.

“Under the Trump administration, and thanks to Dr. Cordova’s leadership, NSF has been at the forefront of strengthening American leadership in emerging technology,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said. “Dr. Panchanathan’s expertise and dedication will ensure that NSF continues to be a driving force for U.S. discovery, innovation, and technological growth.

The NSF director position requires Senate confirmation, once Panchanathan is officially nominated.

The administration made another major federal tech appointment this week: announcing the intent to appoint Bryan Ware to serve as assistant director for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, replacing the outgoing Jeanette Manfra. Ware currently serves as the Homeland Security Department’s assistant secretary for cyber, infrastructure and resilience policy.

Ware’s appointment was first reported by CyberScoop.

Prior to joining government in 2018, Ware worked in the private sector, founding an artificial intelligence company in 1998 that was later bought by Haystax in 2013. Ware served as Haystax’s chief technology officer until joining Homeland Security in late 2018.

He holds several patents in AI and mobile technology, and has worked on a number of major defense programs, including Star Wars, early drone payload delivery systems and counterterrorism technologies, according to his government bio.

Manfra took a job with Google Cloud as global director of security and compliance.

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