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NSF selects College of Engineering professor as program director

The National Science Foundation tabs well-regarded members of the scientific community to work as part of its temporary and rotator programs. A longtime, accomplished member of the University of Missouri College of Engineering faculty recently received one of these prestigious appointments.

The NSF recently hired Shubhra Gangopadhyay, C.W. LaPierre Endowed Chair Professor of electrical and computer engineering, for one of its program director positions through its Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA).

A portrait photo Gangopadhyay.

The NSF recently hired Shubhra Gangopadhyay, C.W. LaPierre Endowed Chair Professor of electrical and computer engineering, for one of its program director positions through its Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA).

In September, she’ll relocate to the Washington, D.C. area to serve in this full-time capacity. Gangopadhyay will serve with the Communications, Circuits and Sensing Systems Program (CCSS) in the Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems, Directorate for Engineering. The appointment will last at least one year, with the opportunity for a renewal that would stretch it to two years.

“I have been funded by NSF since 1990 and have considered this opportunity in the past. I think, at this point, my research program is stable enough, and it’s time to give back, and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Gangopadhyay said.

Program directors are responsible for oversight of the merit review process for allocating funding as well as helping to define new opportunities, according to the NSF. Main responsibilities also include “interacting with potential principal investigators, forming and facilitating merit review panels, and recommending funding decisions.”

Gangopadhyay said she’s excited for the opportunity on a personal level, citing particularly the stimulating nature of the work. She’s also looking forward to the chance raise the College’s profile with the NSF and her colleagues in higher education through her work as program director.

“It’s very stimulating because it brings visibility for the College, the University of Missouri,” she said. “There will be opportunities to visit different campuses and interact with faculty.”

Gangopadhyay also will have the opportunity to learn valuable lessons about the inner machinations of the NSF grant-funding process, which in turn could allow her to mentor fellow faculty members on what the organization is looking for in terms of funding larger centers and bigger grants.

“At the NSF, there are so many new programs and so many new things, sometimes you have to wait for them to publish that information, but once you’re there, you can get that information ahead of time and also create new programs jointly with other divisions,” she said. “Since I know the College … I can mentor and be a channel to connect researchers.”

As for her current research program, the work will continue under the guidance of her more experienced post-doctoral researchers and fellow faculty members. Gangopadhyay also, per the standard agreement with the NSF, can return to MU weekly, at no cost, to monitor the progress of her ongoing research. Continuing her current work while working as a program director promises to be a hefty commitment, but Gangopadhyay said she loves her work and is ready to hit the ground running.

“I consider myself fortunate for all the years of service I have done. You have to be really on top of your field [to be selected],” she said. “I’m just lucky, I guess.”