NSF Seeks New Leaders to Head Three Research Directorates

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Publication date: 
9 March 2016

National Science Foundation Director France Córdova has announced national searches to identify candidates to become the next assistant directors for three of the foundation’s six research directorates: Mathematical & Physical Sciences, Geosciences, and Engineering.

NSF Director France CordovaThe search for new National Science Foundation (NSF) assistant directors for the Mathematical & Physical Sciences, Geosciences, and Engineering research directorates is now underway. The Foundation has appointed search committee chairs and is reaching out to the scientific community for recommendations and supporting information to help fill all three positions. The search committees are open to receiving input on candidates through mid- to late May.

Current Assistant Director for the Mathematical & Physical Sciences Fleming Crim, Assistant Director for the Geosciences Roger Wakimoto, and Assistant Director for Engineering Pramod Khargonekar have all served in their respective leadership positions “with distinction” since early 2013, said Cordova in her letters announcing the searches. All three are reaching the end of the typical four-year term that NSF rotators - who typically are on temporary loan from research institutions– are allowed to serve.

Córdova’s letters announcing the searches, as well as a list of the selection criteria for candidates and other supplementary information, are available here for the mathematical and physical sciences assistant director position, here for the geosciences position, and here for the engineering position.

The assistant director for the Mathematical & Physical Sciences directorate oversees an approximately $1.35 billion research budget and five divisions: Astronomical Sciences, Chemistry, Materials Research, Mathematical Sciences, and Physics. The assistant director for the Geosciences directorate oversees an approximately $1.32 billion research budget and four divisions: Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, Earth Sciences, Ocean Sciences, and Polar Programs. And the assistant director for the Engineering directorate oversees an approximately $920 million research budget, five divisions, and one office: Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems; Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation; Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems; Engineering Education and Centers; Industrial Innovation and Partnerships; and the Office of Emerging Frontiers and Multidisciplinary Activities.

Although a new president will be inaugurated in January 2017, the assistant director positions have not been presidentially-appointed or Senate-confirmed in recent decades. The NSF director is presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed, but she or he serves a six-year term and may stay director into the next administration.


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