National Science Foundation
October 1993 - August 1998
Photo: NSF Collection
The tenth director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Neal F. Lane served from October 1993 to August 1998. He brought to the position a concern for improving communications between the scientific community and the general public. In urging scientists and engineers to step outside of their laboratories and engage in active dialogue with their fellow citizens, he coined the term "civic scientist." His successor, Rita R. Colwell, praised him for bringing the term "to the lexicon of science, to our psyche and to our responsibility." She also extolled him for his efforts to expand opportunities for women and minorities in science.
Lane received his B.S. (1960), M.S. (1962) and Ph.D. (1964) from the University of Oklahoma. After postdoctoral studies at Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland (1964-65), and the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado (1965-66), he joined the faculty at Rice University. He remained at Rice until 1984 (with the exception of a year as director of NSF's Division of Physics from 1979 to 1980), when he became chancellor of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. In 1986, he returned to Rice University as provost.
During his tenure, Lane established four core strategies: developing intellectual capital by supporting excellence among underrepresented groups in science and engineering; strengthening the scientific and engineering infrastructure through funds for modernization; integrating research and education; and promoting partnerships between NSF and academia, federal, state and local governments and industry. Through his leadership, NSF also developed new merit review criteria: intellectual merit and broader impact.