As we reported in December, the President nominated Dr. Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan as the next Director of the National Science Foundation, succeeding Dr. France Córdova, whose six-year term as Director ended in March. Unfortunately, as has become common these days, Dr. Panchanathan’s nomination has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic (this even necessitated Presidential Science Advisor Kelvin Droegemeier being appointed acting Director).
But, in a bit of good news, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (aka: Senate HELP committee) scheduled his nomination for a committee vote on Wednesday. Dr. Panchanathan’s nomination moved forward without a traditional hearing, likely because of the pandemic and the lack of any controversy surrounding his appointment. This is the second to last step in being confirmed to the position; only a vote by the full Senate chamber is left. Hopefully that will happen soon, though an exact timeframe is uncertain (nominations are considered at the discretion of the Senate majority and, specifically, the Senate Majority Leader). Be sure to check back for more updates.
6/4/20 Update: Good news! Dr. Panchanathan’s nomination was voted favorably by the the Senate HELP committee yesterday, clearing him for consideration by the full Senate. We’ll update again once his nomination is confirmed.