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A Timeline of NSF History

NSF History by Decade: 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s


1970 - September 1: The Office for the International Decade of Ocean Exploration is established.

1971 - February 1: Research Applied to National Needs (RANN) established. This was a controversial effort to solve domestic problems like pollution, transportation and energy through the application of academic research.

1971 - July 12: The Defense Department's interdisciplinary materials research laboratories are transferred to the NSF. The Division of Materials Research is established and NSF becomes the leading funder for materials research in American academic institutions.

1971 - September 10: Director William McElroy announces NSF's commitment to improving the quality of science education and strengthening the research capability at historically Black colleges and universities.

1972 - February 1: H. Guyford Stever assumes the directorship of NSF. (Stever Biography).

1972 - August 10: Public Law 99-372, the NSF Authorization Act of 1973, makes explicit NSF responsibility for "science education programs at all levels."

1972 - October 13: With the signing of the Technology Assessment Act of 1972, Public Law 92-484, NSF is authorized to support activities concerning the "effects of scientific application upon society."

1973 - January 26: President Richard M. Nixon's reorganization plan abolishes the President's Science Advisory Committee and the Office of Science and Technology, effective July 1, 1973, and responsibility for serving as science advisor to the president is given to the director of the NSF.

1974 - May 28: The Office for Climate Dynamics is established to oversee a program to improve understanding of global climatic processes and to assess the impact of global climate change on human affairs.

1975 - January 19: Major components of NSF's solar and geothermal energy programs are transferred to the newly established Energy Research and Development Administration.

1975 - July 10: NSF undergoes a major reorganization, with the establishment of seven directorates.

1975 - August 9: The Alan T. Waterman Award is established by Congress. The award recognizes an outstanding young researcher in any of the fields supported by NSF. (Alan T. Waterman Award)

1976 - August 12: H. Guyford Stever resigns as director to become the first director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and presidential science advisor. Richard C. Atkinson, the deputy director, becomes acting director.

1977 - May 3: Atkinson is confirmed by the Senate to be NSF director. (Atkinson Biography).

1977 - August 3: The first awards are announced in a program to increase participation of the physically challenged in scientific careers.

1977 - October 26: The Small Business Innovation Applied to National Needs Program makes its first awards. A program designed to tap the innovative capabilities of small firms, it becomes the forerunner of the Small Business Innovation Research Program.

1978 - January 19: The National Science Board approves the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), an effort by the NSF to respond to uneven geographical distribution of grants by supporting the efforts by underrepresented states to improve their research competitiveness. The first grants were made in May 1979.

1979 - June 19: An agreement is reached between NSF and the Science and Technology Agency and the Ministry of Construction of Japan for a joint program to expand scientific knowledge and improve engineering practices regarding earthquake-resistant buildings, part of NSF's long-term earthquake research program which had begun in 1961.