Feb 2019
Feb 2019

Educator Satish Udpa Appointed as Acting President of Michigan State University

Michigan State University has announced that Satish Udpa will serve as the higher education institution’s acting president.

Udpa assumes the role in the wake of interim president John Engler resigning, the university said in a news release. Engler was the interim president since Jan. 31, 2018.

Udpa, the executive vice president for administrative services at MSU, was unanimously voted to the post by the university’s Board of Trustees.

“I’m honored to serve as the acting president of MSU,” said the Indian American educator in a statement. “I am eager to work with the board during this transition, helping the university move forward.”

Udpa is now responsible for all duties associated with the Office of the President and will serve in the role until a permanent president is selected as part of the university’s ongoing search, the release said.

“While we collectively are working very hard to make needed improvements regarding the prevention of and response to sexual misconduct and relationship violence, as well as enhancing patient care and safety, none of our hard work will matter if people in leadership say hurtful things and do not listen to the survivors,” board chairperson Dianne Byrum said in a statement. “To the survivors, the entire Board of Trustees extends our remorse over the regretful comments Engler has made. We are diligently seeking a new leader to continue our healing and guide our campus to achieve our aspirations in integrity, inclusion, research and education.”

Before becoming an executive vice president, Udpa served as dean of the College of Engineering and chairperson of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Prior to joining MSU in 2001, he was the Whitney Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He also served as the permanent secretary of the World Federation of NDE Centers from 1998 to 2003. Udpa received his doctorate in electrical engineering from Colorado State University.

Feb 2019

CA Scientist Saket Navlakha Receives $1 Million Award to Study ‘Algorithms in Nature’

Salk scientist Saket Navlakha has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) totaling more than $1 million over the next five years. The CAREER award supports faculty who exemplify the role of teacher/scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

"Saket's work is as innovative as it is interdisciplinary, with an approach that spans the fields of plant biology, computer science and neuroscience to reveal fascinating patterns in nature, including the brain," says Salk President Rusty Gage. "We are grateful that his research is being recognized and supported by the NSF, as it will help advance our understanding of how mathematics is intrinsically linked with the natural world, with relevance to topics as diverse as finding the causes of Alzheimer's disease or enhancing crop yields."

An assistant professor in the Integrative Biology Laboratory and a Pioneer Fund Developmental Chair, Navlakha received the CAREER award to fund his proposed study, "Algorithms in nature: uncovering principles of plant structure, growth, and adaptation." The goal of this project is to elucidate the naturally occurring algorithms in biological systems, such as the branching of a tree in search for light, and compare the network design strategies and optimization principles to that of developing neurons in the brain and human engineered transportation structures. The results of his study will help reveal the basic patterns that evolution has used to design these systems and will offer an improved understanding of how these natural networks process information and function in both health and disease.

Navlakha received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Maryland and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University. In the Integrative Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute, Navlakha and his team study how groups of distributed molecules and cells communicate and process information to collectively solve computational problems important for survival.

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