In May 2010, Dr. Michael Van Woert was appointed executive officer and director of the National Science Board (NSF) office at the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Before coming to the National Science Board, he served for five years as the executive officer for NSF's Office of Polar Programs (OPP), which supports basic science and logistics in both polar regions. During that time, he led the Arctic Sciences Division--which funds about $90 million annually in arctic research and logistics--in a strategic planning activity that poised them for leadership during the International Polar Year 2007-2008. He also managed the Office of Polar Environment, Health and Safety, which is responsible for ensuring environmental compliance under the Antarctic Treaty System and the health and safety of all participants conducting fieldwork in Antarctica.
In 1997, Van Woert assumed leadership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Ocean Remote Sensing Program. In that role, he oversaw the development of numerous space-based oceanographic research products and their transition into operation. While at NOAA, he also served as the chief scientist for the U.S. National Ice Center (NIC), where he led a team of scientists and engineers in the development of sea ice products that support the nation's needs for safe navigation through ice-covered waters. For his work at the NIC, he was awarded two Department of Commerce Bronze Medals, the highest honor bestowed by the NOAA administrator.
From 1993 to 1997, Van Woert held management positions at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Office of Naval Research, where he focused attention on the development of a space-borne wind sensor that could support both NASA's climate studies as well as the Navy's requirements for operational marine winds. The WindSat/Coriolis mission--launched in January 2003--was based on research, development and conceptual studies that were conducted under his leadership.
Upon completing his graduate studies, Van Woert worked in the commercial remote sensing market, developing software to exploit a newly emerging fleet of environmental satellites. During that time he also founded PLOTWORKS Inc., an engineering graphics company that allowed legacy scientific and engineering applications from mainframe computers to be migrated to personal computers that were just coming into the market place.
Van Woert received his Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of California, Davis, (1976) and in a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego (1984), where he contributed to the emerging field of ocean remote sensing.
He authored or co-authored more than forty professional articles in the fields of environmental remote sensing and oceanography. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society.