National Science Foundation
November 1982 - August 1984
Photo: NSF Collection
The seventh director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) served from November 1982 to August 1984. Although relatively unknown to most of the scientific community when nominated by President Ronald Reagan, Knapp was praised by those who were familiar with him as "a first-class scientist, well-educated, with extensive management experience."
Knapp received his B.A. from Pomona College in 1954 and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1958. He then joined the staff of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he remained until coming to NSF in 1982. At NSF, he briefly served as Assistant Director for the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate before becoming director.
During his tenure, the briefest of any director, the NSF budget increased 38 percent. However, Knapp did not enjoy being an administrator, and left NSF to return to research.