Technology, telecommunications expert Meinrath named Palmer Chair

A renowned technology and telecommunications policy expert who has been honored as one of the most influential minds in technology by Time Magazine was named the Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State.

Sascha Meinrath, director of X-Lab and well known for his work in a variety of roles -- building distributed communications broadbands networks, as a policy expert who has advised numerous congressmen as well as White House and Federal Communications Commission staff, as a social entrepreneur and as an angel investor -- joins the University as a professor holding the named chair in the College of Communications.

The Palmer Chair was created in 1988 to provide leadership on the development of new initiatives that enhance Penn State’s visibility, nationally and internationally. An endowment by State College residents and cable television pioneers James R. and Barbara R. Palmer made the position possible.

"Sascha Meinrath's experience, expertise and energy make him an ideal fit for the Palmer Chair,” Dean Marie Hardin said. “His background and work with the X-Lab present exciting opportunities for the college and our students."

Prior to founding X-Lab, a technology and policy innovation project, Meinrath was vice president of the New America Foundation, where he founded the Open Technology Institute in 2008 and built it into the leading public interest “tech tank” in Washington, D.C. He is an Ashoka Fellow and has been named as one of the “TIME Tech 40” as one of the most influential figures in technology, to the “Top 100” in Newsweek's Digital Power Index, and as a recipient of the Public Knowledge IP3 Award for excellence in public interest advocacy.

“The Palmer Chair provides a unique platform to bridge the inside-the-Beltway policy world, the thriving academic community at Penn State and the entrepreneurial realm of vanguard technologies,” Meinrath stated. “The College of Communications has long been a nexus for public intellectuals working at the intersection of technology and policy, and I am honored to be welcomed amongst such accomplished colleagues.”

The position was previously held by Richard Taylor, who retired earlier this year after a quarter century as the inaugural Palmer Chair.

In addition to his work with students in the College of Communications, Meinrath will continue his policy and technology development work in nation’s capital, where he is a vocal public intellectual and a leading voice calling for accountability over the governmental spying programs, and has been at the forefront of Washington, D.C., policy debates over how Congress and the White House should rein in the cybersecurity-industrial complex.

“Sascha Meinrath is an exciting addition to the telecommunications faculty and our students will benefit tremendously from his expertise dealing with broadband technology and policy issues. Sascha is a visionary and entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in developing digital technologies for social good,” said Matt Jackson, head of the Department of Telecommunications. “His work at the X-Lab building community broadband networks is an example of how telecommunications can provide real-world benefits and social equity in communities around the world. Sascha will enhance the department’s mission to prepare students for global leadership positions within the vast array of digital industries and to conduct research that aids policymakers and industry leaders in developing best practices for the future.”

Meinrath’s research focuses on distributed communications, “digital feudalism,” “digital craftsmanship,” telecommunications and spectrum policy, cybersecurity and privacy, and disruptive technology. His work is a testament to his lifelong commitment to promoting social and economic justice.

Meinrath is a regular columnist for the Christian Science Monitor and is widely published in both academic and media outlets, including Critical Studies in Media Communications, International Journal of Communications, Journal of Communications Law and Policy, Journal of Internet Law, Journal for Community Informatics, IEEE Internet Computing Magazine, IEEE Spectrum, Foreign Policy, The Hill, Time Magazine, Politico, Slate, The Guardian, and many others.

The son of a Brazilian immigrant, Professor Meinrath, has a 5-year-old daughter. 

Sascha Meinrath Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated June 02, 2021