2022 Annual Conference Speakers

TAMEST 2022 Annual Conference speakers will share how Texas can build the vibrant, healthy communities of tomorrow and address topics like health care, housing, infrastructure and infectious disease. Learn more about the annual conference >

James Allison

Nobel Laureate James P. Allison, Ph.D. (NAM, NAS)

Regental Professor and Chair

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. James Allison is the Chair of the Department of Immunology, the Olga Keith Wiess Distinguished University Chair of Cancer Research, Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Research, and the Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He has spent a distinguished career studying the regulation of T cell responses and developing strategies for cancer immunotherapy. He earned the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Dr. Tasuku Honjo, “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.” Among his most notable discoveries are the determination of the T cell receptor structure and that CD28 is the major costimulatory molecule that allows full activation of naïve T cells and prevents energy in T cell clones. His lab resolved a major controversy by demonstrating that CTLA-4 inhibits T-cell activation by opposing CD28-mediated costimulation and that blockade of CTLA-4 could enhance T cell responses, leading to tumor rejection in animal models. This finding paved the wave for the emerging field of immune checkpoint blockade therapy for cancer. Work in his lab led to the development of ipilimumab, an antibody to human CTLA-4 and the first immune checkpoint blockade therapy approved by the FDA. Among many honors, he is a member of the National Academies of Science and Medicine and received the Lasker-Debakey Clinical Medical Research award in 2015. His current work seeks to improve immune checkpoint blockade therapies currently used by our clinicians and identify new targets to unleash the immune system in order to eradicate cancer.
Craig Boyan

Craig Boyan



Craig Boyan is the President of H-E-B. He is also a member of the H-E-B Board and a Trustee of the H-E-B Investment Retirement Plan.

Craig joined H-E-B in 2005 as Chief Strategic Officer and was an advisor to H-E-B for two years before joining the company.

Prior to H-E-B, Craig worked at the Monitor Company, a global consultancy based in Cambridge, MA. Craig founded and ran Monitor’s New York office.

He graduated from Harvard College, cum laude in economics, and he was a member of the Harvard crew team. He also received an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Craig is a member of the Board of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and a member of the FMI Executive Committee. He also served as the Chairman of the 2016 FMI Midwinter Executive Conference. Craig serves as the Chairman of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation; he is also on the Board of Trustees for Texas Biomedical Research Institute. Craig is also Chairman of the Board for Junior Achievement of South Texas, and a member of the Mayor’s Education and Development Workforce Leadership Team. He is a past member of the United Way Executive Committee and, served as the General Campaign Chair for the 2015 United Way Campaign.

Henry Cisneros

Henry Cisneros

Chairman and Co-Chief Investment Officer

American Triple I Partners, LLC

Henry Cisneros is Chairman and Co-Chief Investment Officer of American Triple I, an infrastructure investment firm based in New York. He is also a Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors & Equity Owner of Shank Williams Cisneros & Co., L.L.C, and Principal of Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC. a national municipal and corporate finance firm. Mr. Cisneros is the Founder and Chairman of CityView, which is a partner in building more than 100 communities in 13 states, building more than 7,000 homes with a total value of over $5 billion.

Mr. Cisneros’ community-building career began at the local level. After serving three terms as a City Councilmember, in 1981, Mr. Cisneros became the first Hispanic-American mayor of a major U.S. city, San Antonio, Texas. During his four terms as Mayor, he helped rebuild the city’s economic base and spurred the creation of jobs through massive infrastructure and downtown improvements.

In 1984, Mr. Cisneros was interviewed by the Democratic Presidential nominee as a possible candidate for Vice President of the United States and in 1986 was selected as the “Outstanding Mayor” in the nation by City and State Magazine. After completing four terms as Mayor, Mr. Cisneros formed Cisneros Asset Management Company, a fixed income management firm operating nationally and ranked at the time as the second fastest growing money manager in the nation.

In 1992, President Clinton appointed Mr. Cisneros to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet, Secretary Cisneros has been credited with initiating the revitalization of many of the nation’s public housing developments and with formulating policies which contributed to achieving the nation’s highest ever homeownership rate. In his role as the President’s chief representative to the nation’s cities, Mr. Cisneros personally worked in more than 200 U.S. cities in every one of the 50 states.

After leaving HUD in 1997, Mr. Cisneros was president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications, the Spanish-language broadcaster which has become the fifth-most-watched television network in the nation. Mr. Cisneros currently serves on Univision’s Board of Directors. Mr. Cisneros has served as President of the National League of Cities, as Deputy Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and as Vice-Chairman of Habitat for Humanity International. Mr. Cisneros remains active in San Antonio’s leadership where he is former Chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and BioMed SA. He is a former member of the advisory board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Mr. Cisneros has been inducted into the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) “Builders Hall of Fame”.

Mr. Cisneros has also been author or editor of several books including: Interwoven Destinies: Cities and the Nation. His book project with former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, Opportunity and Progress: A Bipartisan Platform for National Housing Policy, was presented the Common Purpose Award for demonstrating the potential of bipartisan cooperation and Casa y Comunidad: Latino Home and Neighborhood Design was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Silver Medal in the category of best business book of 2006. In 2017 he co-authored Building Equitable Cities.

Mr. Cisneros holds a Bachelor of Arts and a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Texas A&M University, where he has been designated a Distinguished Alumnus. He earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, was a graduate assistant in urban economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, holds a Doctorate in Public Administration from George Washington University, and has been awarded more than 20 honorary doctorates from leading universities, Texas A&M University at San Antonio is the site of the Cisneros Center for Emerging Leaders. He served as an infantry officer in the United States Army. Mr. Cisneros is married to Mary Alice P. Cisneros, who from 2007–2011 served on San Antonio’s City Council. They have three children – Teresa, Mercedes, and John Paul – and four grandchildren.

Sandro Galea

Sandro Galea, M.D., Dr.P.H. (NAM)


Boston University School of Public Health

Sandro Galea, a physician, epidemiologist, and author, is dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at Boston University School of Public Health. He previously held academic and leadership positions at Columbia University, the University of Michigan, and the New York Academy of Medicine. He has published extensively in the peer-reviewed literature, and is a regular contributor to a range of public media, about the social causes of health, mental health, and the consequences of trauma. He has been listed as one of the most widely cited scholars in the social sciences. He is past chair of the board of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and past president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. Galea has received several lifetime achievement awards. Galea holds a medical degree from the University of Toronto, graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow.


Peter Hotez

Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. (NAM)

Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine

Baylor College of Medicine

Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. (NAM) is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine where he is also the Co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics. He is also University Professor at Baylor University, Fellow in Disease and Poverty at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University, Faculty Fellow with the Hagler Institute for Advanced Studies at Texas A&M University, and Health Policy Scholar in the Baylor Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

Dr. Hotez is an internationally recognized physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. As head of the Texas Children’s CVD, he leads a team and product development partnership for developing new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and SARS/MERS/SARS-2 coronavirus, diseases affecting hundreds of millions of children and adults worldwide, while championing access to vaccines globally and in the United States. In 2006 at the Clinton Global Initiative, he co-founded the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to provide access to essential medicines for hundreds of millions of people.

He obtained his undergraduate degree in molecular biophysics from Yale University in 1980 (phi beta kappa), followed by a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Rockefeller University in 1986, and an M.D. from Weil Cornell Medical College in 1987. Dr. Hotez has authored more than 500 original papers and is the author of four single-author books, including Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases (ASM Press); Blue Marble Health: An Innovative Plan to Fight Diseases of the Poor amid Wealth (Johns Hopkins University Press); Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism (Johns Hopkins University Press); and a forthcoming 2020 book on vaccine diplomacy in an age of war, political collapse, climate change and anti-science (Johns Hopkins University Press).

Dr. Hotez served previously as President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and he is founding Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (Public Health Section) and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (Public Policy Section). In 2011, he was awarded the Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Health by the Pan American Health Organization of the WHO. In 2014-16, he served in the Obama Administration as US Envoy, focusing on vaccine diplomacy initiatives between the US Government and countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2018, he was appointed by the US State Department to serve on the Board of Governors for the US Israel Binational Science Foundation and is frequently called upon frequently to testify before US Congress. He has served on infectious disease task forces for two consecutive Texas Governors. For these efforts in 2017 he was named by FORTUNE Magazine as one of the 34 most influential people in health care, while in 2018 he received the Sustained Leadership Award from Research!America. In 2019, he received the Ronald McDonald House Charities Award for Medical Excellence.

Most recently as both a vaccine scientist and autism parent, he has led national efforts to defend vaccines and to serve as an ardent champion of vaccines going up against a growing national “antivax” threat. In 2019, he received the Award for Leadership in Advocacy for Vaccines from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Dr. Hotez appears frequently on television (including BBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC), radio, and in newspaper interviews (including the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal).

Richard Jackson

Richard J. Jackson, M.D. (NAM)

Professor Emeritus

UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Richard Joseph Jackson is Professor emeritus at the Fielding School of Public Health at the UCLA, where he was Department Chair in Environmental Health Science. A pediatrician, he has served in many leadership positions with the California Health Department, including the highest as the State Health Officer. For nine years he was Director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award. In October, 2011, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jackson was instrumental in establishing the California Program and state and national laws to reduce risks from pesticides, especially to farm workers and children. While at CDC he established major environmental public health programs and instituted the federal effort to “biomonitor” chemical levels in the US population.

Dick Jackson lectures and speaks on many issues, particularly those related to Climate Heating, Built Environment, and Health. He co-authored the books: Urban Sprawl and Public Health, Making Healthy Places, and Designing Healthy Communities for which he hosted a four hour PBS series. He has served on many environment and health boards, as well as the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects. He is an elected Honorary Fellow of American Institute of Architects and elected Honorary Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

S. Claiborne "Clay" Johnston, M.D., Ph.D.

S. Claiborne “Clay” Johnston, M.D., Ph.D. (NAM)

Special Assistant to the President and Provost, The University of Texas at Austin

Professor of Neurology, Dell Medical School

Clay Johnston is Professor of Neurology and Special Assistant to the President and Provost at The University of Texas at Austin. From 2014 to 2021, he was the inaugural Dean of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. Clay specializes in stroke care and research with a focus on identifying risk factors and secondary prevention treatments after TIA and ischemic stroke. He was formerly at the University of California, San Francisco, where he served as Director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Associate Vice Chancellor of Research and founding director of the Center for Healthcare Value. Clay is a graduate of Amherst College, completed medical school at Harvard University and received a PhD in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley.

John Junkins

John L. Junkins, Ph.D. (NAE)


Hagler Institute for Advanced Study

John L. Junkins, is University Distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering and holder of the Royce E. Wisenbaker Chair in Innovation at Texas A&M University. He is the Founding Director of the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study. The Texas A&M Institute for Advanced Study was officially renamed the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study in 2017 after benefactor Jon Hagler endowed the Institute with a $20 million gift. Starting in 2011, Junkins and Norman Augustine created the External Advisory Board that has been instrumental in the evolution of the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study.

Junkins recently graduated his 55th PhD student spawning 2 generations of professors and 3 generations of over 160 PhDs who play significant roles worldwide. He remains an active professor and principle investigator who currently directs 5 doctoral candidates and a post-doctoral researcher. His sponsorship exceeds $50 million in extramural funding.

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, the International Academy of Astronautics, and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Junkins is the author of over four-hundred papers and eight widely used technical books. His co-authored Analytical Mechanics of Aerospace Systems text won the 2014 Martin Summerfield Best Book Award, given annually by AIAA. He recently received the highest honor in his field, the Robert H. Goddard Astronautics Award (2019). The Hagler Institute has attracted over ninety internationally eminent scholars to Texas A&M and over $40 million of endowment to permanently secure the Institute.

Charles Martinez

Charles R. Martinez Jr., Ph.D.

Dean of Education

The University of Texas at Austin

Charles R. Martinez Jr. is the 12th dean of the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Martinez’s scholarly work focuses on identifying factors that hinder or promote the success of children and families from vulnerable and underserved populations. He is particularly interested in how immigrant Latino families adjust to life in the U.S. and how to better harness culturally specific protective factors to ensure their success in navigating the many challenges associated with immigration. Martinez has led numerous national and international research projects designed to examine risk and protective factors involved in linking social and cultural factors to education and behavioral health disparities for Latino children and families, and to develop and test culturally specific interventions for at-risk families in the U.S. and in Latin America. Prior to joining Texas, Martinez was the Philip H. Knight Professor in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Oregon, where he also served as founding director of the Center for Equity Promotion. He is a nationally recognized scholar on organizational equity, cross-cultural research, and community engagement. A first-generation college graduate, Martinez received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pitzer College, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. Martinez holds the Lee Hage Jamail Regents Chair in Education and the Sid W. Richardson Regents Chair. He is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and founding director of the Texas Center for Equity Promotion.
Shara McClure

Shara McClure

DSVP Texas Health Care Delivery

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas

Shara McClure knows Texas health care. A native Texan and proud Texas A&M University graduate, she leads health care delivery operations for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX), which offers the broadest provider network in the state covering all 254 counties. Having represented multiple health plans, physician organizations, and hospitals prior to her tenure at BCBSTX, Shara’s unwavering commitment to both improve and protect the physical and financial health of Texas has bolstered her reputation as an executive thought leader.

Thanks to her wide range of experience in the industry, Shara brings invaluable leadership and expertise to some of BCBSTX’s most important business functions, such as Provider Network Management, Performance & Programs for commercial, government and individual product lines. This includes hospital, physician and ancillary provider contracting, communications, compliance, analytical decision support and value-based care.

Shara is passionate about using her platform to inspire women and young professionals to become leaders in their organizations. She is the chairperson of the company’s business resource group Women Improving the Strength of the Enterprise (WISE) and oversees WISE’s initiatives to promote career, community, commerce, and culture across Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in Texas, Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Montana. She also represents the company as vice chair on the Board of Directors for TMA PracticeEdge, LLC in addition to serving on the board for the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce and IT’S TIME TEXAS.

Outside of the office, Shara is an active leader in the community. She serves on the board of directors for The Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University, graduated from the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Dallas program in 2017, and is a senior fellow of Houston’s American Leadership Forum. Shara recently received her Master of Public Health degree from George Washington University.

Shara and her husband Craig are proud parents to Melinda and Michael, both of whom followed in their mother’s footsteps at Texas A&M. She also models the way for a healthy lifestyle by exercising five days a week and enjoys spending time with her family, golfing, and traveling.

Marcia McNutt

Marcia McNutt, Ph.D. (NAS)


National Academy of Sciences

Marcia McNutt is a geophysicist and president of the National Academy of Sciences. From 2013 to 2016, she served as editor-in-chief of the Science journals. Prior to joining Science, she was director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from 2009 to 2013. During her tenure, the USGS responded to a number of major disasters, including earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and Japan, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. McNutt led a team of government scientists and engineers at BP headquarters in Houston who helped contain the oil and cap the well. She directed the flow rate technical group that estimated the rate of oil discharge during the spill’s active phase. For her contributions, she was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard’s Meritorious Service Medal.

Before joining the USGS, McNutt served as president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), in Moss Landing, California. During her time at MBARI, the institution became a leader in developing biological and chemical sensors for remote ocean deployment, installed the first deep-sea cabled observatory in U.S. waters, and advanced the integration of artificial intelligence into autonomous underwater vehicles for complex undersea missions.

From 2000 to 2002, McNutt served as president of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). She was chair of the Board of Governors for Joint Oceanographic Institutions, responsible for operating the International Ocean Drilling Program’s vessel JOIDES Resolution and associated research programs.

McNutt began her academic career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and directed the Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science & Engineering, jointly offered by MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Her research area is the dynamics of the upper mantle and lithosphere on geologic time scales, work that has taken her to distant continents and oceans for field observations. She is a veteran of more than a dozen deep-sea expeditions, on most of which she was chief or co-chief scientist.

McNutt received a B.A. in physics from Colorado College and her Ph.D. in Earth sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She holds honorary doctoral degrees from the Colorado College, the University of Minnesota, Monmouth University, the Colorado School of Mines, University of Miami, Uppsala University, Michigan State University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, George Washington University, Boston University, Texas A&M University, and Indiana University Bloomington. McNutt is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, UK, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She is a fellow of AGU, the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Association of Geodesy. In 1988, she was awarded AGU’s Macelwane Medal for research accomplishments by a young scientist, and she received the Maurice Ewing Medal in 2007 for her contributions to deep-sea exploration.

Elaine Mendoza

Elaine Mendoza

Texas A&M University System Board of Regents

Technology Entrepreneur:

  • founder, President, and CEO of Conceptual MindWorks, Inc., a biotechnology and medical informatics company, from start-up to 30 years of performance,
  • community leader, contributing to successful education, health, and economic growth initiatives,
  • recognized advocate, appointed by two Governors and three mayors to blue-ribbon boards and commissions.

Immediate past Chair of the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System, the second woman and the first Hispanic to serve in that position. The nine-member A&M Board of Regents has fiduciary responsibility for an operating budget of $6.1 billion and oversight of eleven universities and eight state agencies. Board of Directors Chair for Early Childhood Education Municipal Development Corporation which is responsible for the $32 million Pre-K 4 SA program implementation. Chair for UP Partnership (formerly P16 Council of Greater Bexar County). On organizing board and currently on the founding board for the Holdsworth Center, which strengthens the pipeline of public-school education leaders. Previous Chair of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and previous Chair of the Board of Alamo Workforce Development (now Workforce Solutions Alamo). In 1999-2001, Chair of the Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering & Technology.

Honors: San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame, Outstanding Alumni Award from Texas A&M College of Engineering, National Association of Women Business Owners Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, San Antonio SBA District Office Minority Small Businessperson of the Year.

Education: Texas A&M University, Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa, Ph.D. (NAE)

Chair, National Science Board

Director (retired), Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center

Ellen Ochoa, Ph.D. (NAE) was the Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX from 2013 until her retirement in May 2018. She became the first Latina to go to space when she flew on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown in space four times, logging nearly 1,000 hours. She currently serves on several boards including as Chair of the National Science Board. She previously served as chair of the Nomination Evaluation Committee for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas board. Prior to her astronaut career, Dr. Ochoa was a research engineer and holds three patents for optical systems. She received a B.S. in Physics from San Diego State University, and both an M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), and the Optical Society of America (OSA). She is honored to have six schools named for her and has been inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Kim Orth

Kim Orth, Ph.D. (NAS)

W.W. Caruth Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research

Earl A. Forsythe Chair in Biomedical Science

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Kim Orth is a biochemist deciphering the mechanisms used by bacterial pathogens to manipulate the host. She is recognized for her elucidation of novel biochemical mechanisms that bacterial effectors use to modify host proteins including Ser/Thr acetylation and AMPylation. Her group then discovered the AMPylation is also used by host cells to maintain homeostasis. She enjoys mentoring scientists and helping them learn how to use rigorous reductionist methodology for the discovery of new science. Orth graduated from Texas A &M University with a Bachelor in biochemistry, UCLA with a Masters in biological chemistry and UT Southwestern Medical Center with a PhD in biochemistry. She did postdoctoral fellowships at University of Michigan while becoming the proud mother of two. In 2001, she joined the faculty in the Department of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center where she is currently a Professor. In 2015, Orth became an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Orth has received awards including the 2011 Edith & Peter O’Donnell Award in Science from TAMEST, Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigator Award, Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease, ASBMB Merck Award and Welch Foundation Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Science. Orth is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology and of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sethuraman Panchanathan

Sethuraman Panchanathan, Ph.D.


National Science Foundation

The Honorable Sethuraman Panchanathan is a computer scientist and engineer and the 15th director of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). Panchanathan was nominated to this position by the President of the United States in 2019 and subsequently unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 18, 2020. NSF is an $8.5B independent federal agency and the only government agency charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery, technological innovation and STEM education.

Panchanathan is a leader in science, engineering and education with more than three decades of experience. He has a distinguished career in both higher education and government, where he has designed and built knowledge enterprises, which advance research innovation, strategic partnerships, entrepreneurship, global development and economic growth.

Panchanathan previously served as the executive vice president of the Arizona State University (ASU) Knowledge Enterprise, where he was also chief research and innovation officer. He was also the founder and director of the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing at ASU. Under his leadership, ASU increased research performance fivefold, earning recognition as the fastest growing and most innovative research university in the U.S.

Prior to joining NSF, Panchanathan served on the National Science Board as chair of the Committee on Strategy and as a member of the External Engagement and National Science and Engineering Policy committees. Additionally, he served on the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He was chair of the Council on Research of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and co-chair of the Extreme Innovation Taskforce of the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils. Arizona’s Governor appointed Panchanathan as senior advisor for science and technology in 2018. He was the editor-in-chief of the IEEE Multimedia Magazine and editor/associate editor of several international journals.

Panchanathan’s scientific contributions have advanced the areas of human-centered multimedia computing, haptic user interfaces, person-centered tools and ubiquitous computing technologies for enhancing the quality of life for individuals with different abilities; machine learning for multimedia applications; medical image processing; and media processor designs. He has published close to 500 articles in refereed journals and conference proceedings, and has mentored more than 150 graduate students, postdocs, research engineers and research scientists, many now occupy leading positions in academia and industry.

For his scientific contributions, Panchanathan has received numerous awards, such as Distinguished Alumnus Awards and the Governor’s Innovator of the Year for Academia Award for his development of information technology centric assistive and rehabilitative environments to assist individuals with visual impairments.

Panchanathan is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, where he also served as vice president for strategic initiatives. He is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Society of Optical Engineering.

Panchanathan is married to Sarada “Soumya” Panchanathan, an academic pediatrician and informatician, who has taught medical students, pediatric residents and informatics fellows. They have two adult children, Amritha and Roshan.

Robert Phillips

Robert Phillips, M.D. (NAM)

Executive Director

The Center for Professionalism & Value in Health Care

Robert Phillips is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Florida College of Medicine where he graduated with honors for special distinction. He trained in family medicine at the University of Missouri, followed by a fellowship in health services research and public health. Dr. Phillips was the Director of the Robert Graham Center in Washington DC from 2004-2012. In 2012, he moved to the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) as Vice President for Research and Policy and in 2018, Dr. Phillips was named the founding Executive Director of the Center for Professionalism and Value in Health Care.

Dr. Phillips currently practices part-time in a community-based residency program and is a Professor of Family Medicine at Georgetown University and Virginia Commonwealth University. He also has faculty appointment at George Washington University and Harvard Medical School. He previously served on the American Medical Association’s Council on Medical Education, as president of the National Residency Matching Program, vice chair of the US Council on Graduate Medical Education, and co-chair of Population Health on the National Committee for Vital and Health Statistics. He served as a Fulbright Specialist to the Netherlands in 2012 and New Zealand in 2016. A nationally recognized leader on primary care policy and health care reform, Dr. Phillips was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2010 and currently chairs the NAM Membership Committee.

Peter Pisters

Peter WT Pisters, M.D.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Pisters is president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he previously served in faculty and leadership positions for more than 20 years. His appointment to the presidential post, effective December 1, 2017, followed an international search and a unanimous naming as sole finalist by The University of Texas System Board of Regents.

Renowned as a cancer surgeon, researcher, professor and hospital administrator, Dr. Pisters earned his medical degree at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. He completed his master’s degree in health care administration at Harvard University School of Public Health and did his postgraduate work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he was chief administrative fellow. He earned designation as a Certified Physician Executive in 2014 and was named a fellow of both the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Surgeons.

Most recently, Dr. Pisters led more than 14,000 employees and 1,700 physicians as president and chief executive officer of the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto, Canada. UHN is Canada’s largest academic medical center. Affiliated with the University of Toronto, which recently ranked as the 12th most outstanding academic institution in the world, UHN has a $400 million research enterprise. It advances studies in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. In Toronto, Dr. Pisters also served as president and chief executive officer of The Michener Institute of Education and as a professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto.

Originally arriving at MD Anderson in 1994 from a surgery instructor position at Memorial Sloan Kettering, he joined the faculty as assistant professor of Surgery. He rose to full professor with tenure in 2004 and was repeatedly honored during his two decades at MD Anderson, earning two Fellows Outstanding Teacher awards and three Faculty Excellence awards. Dr. Pisters became medical director and eventually vice president for MD Anderson’s regional care system, comprising multiple Houston-area locations. He previously served as clinical consultant for the Center for Global Oncology (now MD Anderson Cancer Network®), section chief for Sarcoma Surgery and assistant medical director of the Sarcoma Center. He specialized in helping patients with sarcomas and gastrointestinal (GI) cancers and remains a board-certified surgeon.

Dr. Pisters is a member of more than two dozen national organizations and currently serves or has served in leadership positions on the advisory boards of numerous others, including several for the National Cancer Institute. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Surgery and serves as a reviewer for multiple others. His own research, focused on sarcomas, GI cancers and other malignancies, has resulted in nearly 400 peer-reviewed and additional articles, book chapters, teaching aids and other publications.

Margaret Spellings

Margaret Spellings

President and CEO

Texas 2036

Margaret Spellings is the President and CEO of Texas 2036, a nonprofit organization building long-term, data-driven strategies to secure Texas’ prosperity through our state’s bicentennial and beyond. She served in the George W. Bush Administration both as Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy in the White House and as US Secretary of Education. She has also been the President of the Bush Presidential Center in Dallas and the CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce in addition to running her own successful public policy consulting firm in Washington, DC. She most recently served as the President of the University of North Carolina System. She is a graduate and distinguished alumna of the University of Houston.

Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson, Ph.D.


The University of Texas at El Paso

Dr. Heather Wilson became the 11th President of The University of Texas at El Paso in 2019 after serving as Secretary of the United States Air Force. She is the former president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, and she represented New Mexico in the United States Congress for 10 years. In the private sector, she has served as a senior adviser to defense and scientific industry.

Active in community and national affairs, she is a member of the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation. She chairs the Women in Aviation Advisory Board of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Dr. Wilson is the granddaughter of immigrants and was the first person in her family to go to college. She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in the third class to admit women and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar.

UTEP is located on the U.S.-Mexico border – in the fifth largest manufacturing region in North America – and serves more than 24,000 students with 169 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs in nine colleges and schools. In the top 5% of public universities in the United States for research and designated a community-engaged university by the Carnegie Foundation, UTEP is America’s leading Hispanic-serving university. It is the fourth largest research university in Texas and serves a student body that is 84% Hispanic.

President Wilson is an instrument rated private pilot. She and her husband, Jay Hone, have three adult children and one granddaughter.

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