On May 3, 2018, the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), announced a new chair and vice chair to lead the board for the next two years. The board elected Diane Souvaine, a professor of computer science and adjunct professor of mathematics at Tufts University, as its new chair and Ellen Ochoa, director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, as vice chair for the 2018-2020 term. Souvaine replaces former chair Maria Zuber, who rotates off the board after serving six years, and Ochoa replaces Souvaine.
Souvaine, who has served on the Board for ten years, the last two as vice chair, is on her second term. She has also chaired NSBís committees on Strategy and Budget, and Programs and Plans, and served as a member of the Boardís Committee on Audit and Oversight, helping provide strategic direction, oversight, and guidance on NSF projects and programs. In addition, Souvaine co-chaired NSBís Task Force on Mid-Scale Research and served three years on the Executive Committee.
Souvaine, who has served on the board for 10 years, the last two as vice chair, is on her second term. She has also chaired NSB's committees on Strategy and Budget, and Programs and Plans, and served as a member of NSB's Committee on Audit and Oversight, helping provide strategic direction, oversight and guidance on NSF projects and programs. In addition, Souvaine co-chaired NSB's Task Force on Mid-Scale Research and served three years on the executive committee.
"Itís an honor and a privilege to serve as chair on the National Science Board, a role I take very seriously," said Souvaine. "NSF is the innovation engine of our country and its support of fundamental research and people fuels our economy, strengthens our national security, and keeps the U.S. competitive on the global stage. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress, the administration, the science and education communities, and the director and her staff to ensure NSF's pursuit of grand visions and revolutionary ideas that result in unexpected advances for our society."
Souvaine has been a member of the Tufts University faculty since 1998. She served as vice provost for research from 2012-2016, senior advisor to the provost from 2016-2017, and chair of the Department of Computer Science from 2002-2009.
Souvaine's research contributions range from solving challenging problems in computational geometry to practical application across disciplines. Her work extended the results of straight-edged computational geometry into the curved world. Visibility, triangulations and geometric graphs represent another focus of Souvaine's research as does the application of computational geometry to statistics. Her research led to consulting engagements with corporations such as Exxon Chemical Research, IBM and Pfizer.
Prior to Tufts, Souvaine was a member of the Rutgers University faculty for 12 years. During her tenure at Rutgers, she served for 2.5 years in the directorate of NSF's Science and Technology Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS), a groundbreaking academic/industry collaboration of Princeton, Rutgers, Bell Labs and Bellcore. DIMACS is tasked with both the theoretical development of mathematics and computer science and their practical applications.
In addition to her scientific and policy contributions, Souvaine is dedicated to increasing diversity and advancing women and underrepresented groups in mathematics, science and engineering, and works to enhance precollege education in mathematics and computational thinking.
Souvaine is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Association for Computing Machinery, and was a 2005-2006 fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Among many other accomplishments, she was the recipient of the 2008 Lillian and Joseph Leibner Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring.
Souvaine and Ochoa officially assumed their respective NSB roles on May 11, 2018.