In memoriam: Dr. Radhakisan Baheti, NSF ECCS Program Director
It is with great sadness, but also with a deep sense of gratitude, that we honor the life of Dr. Radhakisan Sohanlal Baheti, a longtime program director in the Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems Division of the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Baheti passed away March 9 from the COVID-19 virus.
Kishan, as he was known, was born in Mangrulpir, Maharashtra, India on Feb. 18, 1945 and was the first person from his hometown to seek higher education in the United States. He received a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering in India from VRCE Nagpur, and from BITS Pilani, respectively. In 1970 he immigrated to the United States and earned an M.S. in Information and Computer Science from the University of Oklahoma, followed by a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Oregon State University, where he met his wife Padma.
Kishan worked for the Control Engineering Laboratory of GE Corporate Research and Development Center in Schenectady, NY for the first 15 years of his career. In 1989, he joined the National Science Foundation as a program director in what was then the Division of Electrical and Communications Systems. He remained in this position until his untimely passing.
Kishan received the Distinguished Member Award from the IEEE Control Systems Society and was elected an IEEE Fellow in 1997. Through his funding work at NSF, Kishan became an important advocate for electrical engineering and control, robotics, cyber-physical systems, and nanotechnology. He was a positive influence on the careers of researchers in these areas across the country.
Kishan was an avid runner, a yoga practitioner, and an advocate of healthy nutrition. He ran his first Marine Corps Marathon in 1997 at the age of 52, and went on to race in more than 25 marathons, including Boston and New York. At the age of 65, he ran the JFK 50 Mile race. He was active in charitable work, particularly for underprivileged people in his home town of Mangrulpir, India, and its surrounding areas. A strong proponent of the importance of vaccines, Dr. Baheti organized vaccination drives to improve the health of people in his home region. He had received his first dose of COVID vaccine shortly before his passing.
Kishan is survived by his wife Padma; two daughters, Sheela Kathuria and Dr. Aparna Baheti; and son Rajiv. You can read his obituary here.
Remembrances from ISR faculty
“We in ISR, ECE and the Clark School are among those who owe Kishan a debt of gratitude,” said ISR Director and Professor Ankur Srivastava (ECE/ISR). “Our faculty were fortunate to benefit from frequent interactions and encouragement from Kishan. A number of us worked with him at NSF on short-term rotations. Kishan was a friend to many, and will be greatly missed. We offer these remembrances of our interactions with him.”
Professor and former ISR Director Eyad Abed (ECE)
Professor Michael Fu (BMGT/ISR)
Professor and former ISR Director Reza Ghodssi (ECE/ISR)
Professor Alireza Khaligh (ECE/ISR)
Professor André Tits (ECE/ISR)
Professor Nikhil Chopra (ME)
Professor Nuno Martins (ECE/ISR)
Distinguished University Professor and founding ISR Director John Baras (ECE/ISR)
Indeed, Kishan was a special person and friend to all of us.
He was quiet, persistent, wise and effective. He navigated effectively the various "currents" at NSF, and in collaboration with other agencies he always managed to support interesting new directions for the systems and control community.
I have known him since he joined NSF, facilitated by him being "local" to us at UMD. His support and constructive suggestions to ISR continued through the years without interruption. We became very close and often exchanged ideas and possibilities freely on various topics and areas and especially on the needs to change effectively how we should educate the next generations of systems and control engineers. In the last 15 years or so, Kishan was paying particular attention to and placing emphasis on securing funding support to promising young people in our field, for which I am deeply grateful to him. We have shared so many meetings, ideas, panels and exchanges that I know that I will have great difficulty coming to our major conferences and not being able to see him, meet him and have some interesting exchange with him.
We will all miss him a lot. May his memory be eternal.
March 24, 2021