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Anil Pahwa chosen as Jefferson Science Fellow

June 05, 2014 19:03 IST

Anil Pahwa, Logan-Fetterhoof chair professor of electrical and computer engineering, KansasStateUniversity, was last month named among the 13 Jefferson Science Fellows. The prestigious program is administered by the National Academies and supported through partnerships with the science, technology and engineering academic community, professional scientific societies, the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development.

Pahwa will spend the 2014-2015 school year at the Department of State in Washington, DC and will serve as a scientific adviser and help with American foreign policy.

“I will be visiting Washington, DC in summer to meet people in various bureaus which might have need for my expertise,” he told India Abroad. “I am hoping to work on an assignment related to my field of electric power and energy.”

He noted that about 20 per cent of the world’s population -- which includes 70 per cent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa -- doesn’t have access to electricity. His goal, he said, is to advance policies and plans that can reverse this trend and improve lives of people around the world. To mitigate the power situation globally, the US has initiated special programs such as the Power Africa Initiative, Pahwa explained.

“Technology is tied very closely with foreign policy,” he said. “For a country such as India, my role could be to contribute to policies that would foster an environment for increased investment by US companies in electric power and energy-related infrastructure in India.”

He said he was ‘expecting to work on projects dealing with electric power and energy.  These projects could either be focused on large infrastructure projects or small-scale off-grid projects based on wind and solar power.’

Pahwa, 60, who came to the United States from India in 1977 for graduate studies, will return to Kansas in September 2015 after the fellowship, but will remain available to the State Depart­ment or United States Agency for International Development for short-term projects for the following five years.

Pahwa, who hails from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, said, “Being a part of the select group is a big personal honour for me. My university considers JSF to be an important part of the engagement mission of the university. Thus, selection for the position raises my academic stature in the university as well in the professional community.”

The academic position of a JSF Fellow, together with all the rights and privileges associated with that position, are maintained during the fellowship year. Fellows are paid a per diem of up to $50,000 (annually) to cover local living expenses and an additional $10,000 is awarded for travel associated with their assignments at the Department of State/USAID.

Pahwa has had extensive international experience. His research with power and energy needs has taken him to Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Cape Verde. As a faculty adviser for the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders, he has guided students on projects in India, Guatemala and Ecuador.

From 2007 to 2011, he served as the electrical engineering coordinator for a World Bank-funded project to strengthen higher education in Afghanistan. In 2007, he also spent approximately three weeks at Kabul University to prepare a new curriculum and mentor faculty and students.

“I am very happy that I came to US from India for higher studies,” Pahwa said. “Being in the US has given me opportunities to work in the latest technology in my field. It also provided opportunities to interact and work with the most renowned people in my subject. The opportunities have been endless and I definitely feel that I have mostly fulfilled my dream of what I wanted to achieve. But I will keep working to advance these goals further into the future.”

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York