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K-State Today

May 10, 2022

Computer science professor serving as program director for National Science Foundation

Submitted by Grant Guggisberg

Pavithra Prabhakar

To help develop safe, reliable and secure software systems that interact with physical environments and humans, a Kansas State University professor has accepted a program director appointment with the National Science Foundation.

Pavithra Prabhakar, Peggy and Gary Edwards chair and professor in the computer science department in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering, is serving as program director for the Software and Hardware Foundations Cluster in the Computing and Communication Division of the Computer and Information Science Directorate of the NSF.

The appointment, which began May 9, utilizes Prabhakar's interest and expertise in the formal methods, a sub-field of computer science with promising methodologies based on sound mathematical techniques for rigorous analysis of software and hardware systems. She will be responsible for long-range planning and budget development for the program while managing the award review process, among other duties.

"Safety, reliability, security and trust in intelligent software systems interacting with physical environments and humans, as in driverless cars and robotic surgeries, is the need of the hour," Prabhakar said. "At NSF, I will be primarily responsible for programs in the field of formal methods and its applications to the areas of cyber-physical systems, artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous systems."

Prabhakar's research has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the NSF CAREER award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award and the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant from the European Union. She was named a Michelle Munson-Serban Simu Keystone research scholar and received the dean's award for excellence in research from the College of Engineering. She has previously held visiting positions at the University of California, Berkeley and as a Satish Dhawan visiting professorship at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Prabhakar obtained her doctorate in computer science and a master's degree in applied mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, followed by a CMI postdoctoral fellowship for a year at the California Institute of Technology. Prior to coming to K-State, she spent four years at the IMDEA Software Institute in Spain as a tenure-track assistant research professor. She previously interned at Bell Labs, Murray Hill, while working toward her doctorate.