Kumar honored for advancing science in the developing world

12/6/2010 April Dahlquist, Coordinated Science Lab

ECE Professor [profile:prkumar] was elected as an Associate Fellow in The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).

Written by April Dahlquist, Coordinated Science Lab

Panganamala R Kumar
Panganamala R Kumar

ECE Professor Panganamala R Kumar was elected as an Associate Fellow in The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).

Based in Trieste, Italy, TWAS promotes scientific excellence for sustainable development in the developing world. It is a worldwide academy, consisting of approximately 1,000 members. About 85 percent of the fellows are from the developing world, and the remaining 15 percent, called associate fellows, are from developed countries.

“It is humbling,” said Kumar, a researcher in the Coordinated Science Lab. “I think I am more looking forward to the challenge of seeing what I can give back to the developing world.”

Kumar, a native of India, is one of five people from the developed world to be named a member this year.

For years, P.R. Kumar has been an unofficial education and research ambassador to Indian and Chinese universities. As a member of TWAS, Kumar hopes to expand on his work in that region and the rest of the world.

For example, India has a bottleneck in the education system at the PhD level and the number of PhDs graduated each year. This affects the ability of universities in the country to hire quality faculty members and offer quality undergraduate and graduate studies, Kumar said.

China faces the challenge of moving from a manufacturing economy to an economy based on innovation. This will require systematic changes that increase the quality of university research.

 “It will be very good to get to know scientists from the developing world, across a range of countries,” Kumar said. “I know some challenges of India and China but it will also be very interesting to understand and find out about challenges from other parts of the world. Maybe there would be opportunities for cooperation.”

Kumar will be inducted at the Academy's 22nd General Meeting in Morocco next year.

“I think nowadays, we professors wear an incredible number of hats,” Kumar said. “We teach, write books, advise PhD students, write papers, advise undergraduates, write proposals, and give talks all over the world. We are very fortunate in being able to collaborate and engage with people all across the world and form bonds worldwide.”

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This story was published December 6, 2010.