Karen A. Panetta

Karen A. Panetta

Dr. Karen A. Panetta is the Dean for Graduate Education in the Tufts University School of Engineering, a Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering with secondary appointments in the Departments of Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Panetta was the 2019 President of IEEE-HKN (Eta-Kappa, Nu) and is the Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine and a regular contributor to Forbes. She is the Vice-President of IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, a Fellow of NASA JOVE, IEEE, AAAS, NAI, AAIA and Past-Vice-President of IEEE-USA.  Prior to joining the Tufts faculty, Dr. Panetta was a Principal Engineer for Digital Equipment Corporation. Karen is a world recognized champion for developing diversity and inclusion initiatives. She has numerous awards including the National Science Foundation (NSF) Presidential (PAESMEM) Award, awarded by U.S. President Barack Obama and received the inaugural IEEE Ethical Practices Award. 


Karen is a Fellow of IEEE, Asian-Pacific Artificial Intelligence Association (AAIA), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), National Academy of Inventors (NAI), NASA JOVE and Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Engineers into Education Fellow. She has several awards for outstanding research, teaching and mentoring and outreach activities.  In 2011, President Obama awarded Karen the nation’s highest award for Engineering, Science and Mathematics Education and Mentoring. Other awards include the Norm Augustine Award from the National Academies of Engineering and Science, American Association of Engineering Societies, Women of Vision Award from the Anita Borg Institute, the inaugural recipient of the IEEE Ethical Practices Award, New England Engineers Week Leadership Award, Harriet B. Rigas Award for outstanding female Educator. Dr. Panetta is the recipient of several National Science Foundation Research Grants, including the NSF CAREER Award and a $1,000,000 S-STEM grant for diversity and inclusion. Dr. Panetta’s intellectual property, now known as digital twins, has been adapted across several industries and has won several awards from NASA for Outstanding Research and Research Excellence. 


While at DEC, she co-invented the first CPU Digital Twin. Her patented underwater imaging measures and algorithms are utilized by several companies and organizations for underwater search and rescue and ocean exploration operations. Her other inventions, including her parametric logarithmic image processing operators and image quality measures, quantitatively emulate human vision. These are the first of their kind to enable computer vision applications to automatically assess image quality like a human observer, while enhancing imagery for human perception. Her methods have been adapted across the biomedical, safety and security and agricultural application fields, including for Cancer detection, homeland security, fire protection, food safety, and self-driving vehicles.  


Her impactful technical contributions are complimented by her lifetime of commitment to education and using technology to benefit humanitarian efforts.  She designed the App-E-Feat humanitarian challenge for engineers in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative and IEEE-USA, for which she received a commendation from President Bill Clinton. She has personally conducted engineering outreach activities to over 85,000 children, parents and educators through the Internationally acclaimed Nerd Girls Program and is currently the host of the “Nerd Girl Nation” show, an interview series of STEM women role models. Karen was STEM Advisor to Her Excellency, Joyce Banda, during her Presidency as the leader of Malawi and STEM adviser to U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia, Linda Blanchard. 

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  • Organization
    Tufts University School of Engineering
  • Profession
    Dean for Graduate Education
Related sessions
10 October 2023
16:00 - 17:30 CEST Geneva | 10:00-11:30 EDT, New York | 22:00-23:30 CST, Beijing
Alexander Wong (University of Waterloo), Karen A. Panetta (Tufts University School of Engineering), Luca Carlone (MIT)...

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