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NDSU computer science professor named Jefferson Science Fellow

Posted on 4/10/2013

Kendall Nygard, professor of computer science and operations research at North Dakota State University, has been selected as a Jefferson Science Fellow for 2013-14. He was notified of the prestigious appointment by the U.S. Department of State March 25.

Jefferson Science Fellows serve as science advisers on foreign policy issues. Appointees spend one year at the State Department or the U.S Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C., and also may have extended stays at U.S. foreign embassies or missions.

This year, 13 academic scientists, engineers and physicians from institutions of higher education were selected for the important positions.

"There are so many important policy issues for which the U.S. Department of State is responsible that are grounded in scientific and engineering areas in which I have an interest, including such things as energy, environment, security, arms control and the expanding role of communication and social media in shaping societies. I am very enthused about the opportunity and the trust placed in me to serve as a science adviser on such matters," Nygard said. "I officially begin my work on Aug. 19 and will work from Washington, D.C., for one year. Following the upcoming year, I will return to NDSU and be available for an additional five years on a consultant basis."

The fellowship program was initiated in 2003, designed to engage American science, technology, engineering and medical experts from academia in the development and implementation of U.S. foreign policy.

"By any major research university measure, this is an outstanding recognition of Dr. Nygard's nationally respected expertise, and it is a strong acknowledgment of the quality of our NDSU faculty," said NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani. "He will be an outstanding science adviser as our nation sets critical foreign policy."

NDSU Provost Bruce Rafert praised his distinguished record of teaching, research and service. "He is one of NDSU's very best," Rafert said. "His work spans a remarkably broad range of topics, from simulation to logistics, and artificial intelligence to distance education, and Petri Nets to software engineering. He has earned distinction by the breadth of thesis topics he has supervised and the range of graduate students he has seen through to graduation."

Nygard is one of two NDSU faculty members to be selected for the post. He joins Kalidas Shetty, associate vice president for global outreach and professor of plant sciences, who was a fellow in 2004.

"Jefferson Science Fellows provide our diplomats the scientific advice, rationales and tools to understand complex issues ranging from telecommunication technologies to food safety to biosecurity," Shetty explained. "It is a great honor for Dr. Nygard and NDSU that he is among the select few chosen to serve as an adviser to help our diplomats navigate complex challenges to make our world better for all its citizens. I am thrilled Ken has been chosen - he fully deserves this honor."

Nygard joined the NDSU faculty in 1977, and served as the computer science department chair from 1996 to 2005. In 1994-95, he was director of the Scientific Computing Center at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. He previously was a visiting scientist at the Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and a research fellow at the Air Vehicle Directorate of the Air Force Research Lab.

Nygard's research interests include combinatorial optimization methods involving management of networks and sensor networks, cooperative mission control for unmanned air vehicles, and bioinformatics.

He earned his bachelor's degree at Minnesota State University Moorhead, his master's degree in mathematics from Mankato State University and his doctorate in operations research from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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