Rensselaer Professor Arthur C. Sanderson Named Jefferson Science Fellow by U.S. Department of State

May 5, 2010

Rensselaer Professor Arthur C. Sanderson Named Jefferson Science Fellow by U.S. Department of State

Renowned robotics authority Arthur C. Sanderson, professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been named a Jefferson Science Fellow by the U.S. Department of State.

One of only 12 Jefferson Science Fellows selected this year, Sanderson is charged with articulating the current state of science, technology, and engineering to policy makers so they have the most up-to-date and accurate information available as they craft and implement foreign policy. Sanderson’s initial one-year appointment will begin in August.

“This appointment as a Jefferson Science Fellow is indeed a great honor for Dr. Sanderson, and we heartily congratulate him for this prestigious milestone — an important highlight of what is already a celebrated and distinguished career,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Effective governance demands the best and timeliest information, and the increasing interconnectedness of our national innovation ecosystem demands a robust, comprehensive flow of information from universities to lawmakers and policy makers. The State Department has made a wise choice in appointing Dr. Sanderson to play a key role in this effort.”

“We congratulate Art on this outstanding achievement. His appointment as a Jefferson Science Fellow is just further affirmation that Rensselaer faculty are among the most talented and respected nationally and across the globe,” said Rensselaer Provost Robert Palazzo. “I am confident Art will have a fruitful and rewarding experience in Washington, and represent Rensselaer and its faculty with pride and diligence.” 

An expert in robotics, automation systems, and signal processing, Sanderson’s research on the theory and development of robotics and intelligent systems includes fundamental contributions to sensor-based robotic control, planning and reasoning for intelligent systems, and distributed sensor networks. He has applied his research to manufacturing, biomedical engineering, environmental monitoring, space exploration, and security and defense systems.

Sanderson played a key leadership role in a multi-institution project to develop new solar-powered underwater robot technology for undersea observation and water monitoring.  He was principal investigator of RiverNet, a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The venture sought to develop a network of distributed sensing devices and solar-powered autonomous underwater vehicles (SAUVs) with applications to environmental management and security and defense programs.

After spending 14 years as a professor and co-director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University, Sanderson joined the Rensselaer School of Engineering faculty in 1987 as professor and head of the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering. He served in that role through 1994. Following a prestigious tenure as director of the Division of Electrical and Communications Systems at the National Science Foundation in 1998-2000, he served as vice president for research at Rensselaer from 2000 to 2004.

Sanderson is a prolific researcher, and has authored more than 250 journal publications and proceedings. He has also authored or co-authored six books, including Adaptive Differential Evolution: A Robust Approach to Multimodal Optimization in 2009.

A fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Sanderson is a past president of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, and a recipient of the IEEE Millennium Award.  In 1996, Sanderson was the co-recipient of three awards for innovation in undergraduate engineering education: the Boeing Outstanding Educator Award, the Pew Award for Engineering Education, and the Hesburgh Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education.

Sanderson received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University, and went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University. He has held international visiting positions at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico, and the University of Tsukuba in Japan. He has served as a Visiting Research Fellow of the Autonomous Undersea Systems Institute and senior research adviser for the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries.

Now in its seventh year, the Jefferson Science Fellowship (JSF) program was launched on Oct. 8, 2003, by the U.S. Department of State to establish a new model for engaging the American academic science, technology, and engineering communities in the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. The JSF program is administered by the National Academies and supported through a partnership between the U.S. academic community, professional scientific societies, and the U.S. Department of State.

Rensselaer Professor Kim Boyer, head of the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering, served as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the State Department in 2006-07. In this role, he advised on topics ranging from biofuels to coupling innovation with economic development in Latin America. He also contributed to classified documents concerning the scientific and technological capabilities of South American nations.

All Jefferson Fellowships are contingent upon awardees obtaining an official U.S. government security clearance.