Email Print Share

Fact Sheet

National Science Board

November 9, 2016

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Background. The National Science Foundation (NSF) Act of 1950, which created NSF, states: "The Foundation shall consist of a National Science Board (NSB) ... and a director." Jointly, the board and the director pursue the goals and functions of NSF, including the duty to "recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of research and education in science and engineering."

The board has several statutory responsibilities. One is to provide oversight for and establish the policies of the foundation, within the framework of applicable national policies, as set forth by the president and the Congress. Another is to serve as an independent body of advisors to both the president and Congress on broad, national policy issues related to science and engineering research and education. The board is to render to the president, for submission to Congress no later than January 15 of each even numbered year, a report on indicators of the state of science and engineering in the United States. Additionally, the board is to render to the president for submission to Congress, reports on specific, individual policy matters related to science and engineering and education in science and engineering, as the board, the president or the Congress determines the need for such reports.

Composition. The NSB is made up of 25 members of which 24 are appointed by the President. The NSF Director, an ex officio member is the 25th member. Board members serve six-year terms. With the exception of the NSF director, one-third of the Board is appointed every two years. NSB members are drawn from industry and universities, and represent a variety of science and engineering disciplines and geographic areas in the nation. They are selected for their eminence in research, education, and/or public service. 

Actions. The NSB meets five times a year (four meetings at NSF headquarters in Arlington, Va., and one in another part of the country). It reviews and approves major NSF awards and new programs. It also initiates and conducts studies and reports on a broad range of policy topics--on its own initiative or as the president or Congress requests--including the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators. The NSB also publishes occasional policy papers or statements on issues of importance to U.S. science and engineering.

Honors. The NSB sponsors national honorary awards:

  • Vannevar Bush Award - established by the board in 1980, awarded to senior scientists for public service in science and technology;
  • NSB Public Service Award - established by the board in 1996, presented to one or more individuals, or to a company, corporation or organization, in recognition of their contributions to increasing public understanding of science or engineering.

Members of the National Science Board

Terms expire May 10, 2018

  • Maria T. Zuber-- NSB Chair; Vice President for Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Deborah L. Ball -- William H. Payne Collegiate Professor; Arthur F. Thurmau Professor; Director, TeachingWorks; Research Professor, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • Vinton G. Cerf -- Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for GOOGLE
  • Ruth A. David -- President and CEO, Analytic Services, Inc. (Retired)
  • Inez Fung -- Professor of Atmospheric Science, UC-Berkeley
  • G. Peter Lepage -- Professor of Physics; Harold Tanner Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Cornell University
  • Stephen L. Mayo -- Bren Professor of Biology and Chemistry; William K. Bowes Jr. Leadership Chair, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
  • Geraldine L. Richmond -- Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry, University of Oregon

Terms Expire May 10, 2020

  • Diane L. Souvaine -- NSB Vice Chair; Senior Advisor to the Provost, Tufts University 
  • Robert M. Groves -- Provost and Executive Vice President, Sociology Department; Gerard J. Campbell, S.J. Professor in the Math and Statistics, Georgetown University
  • G. P. "Bud" Peterson -- President, Georgia Tech
  • John L. Anderson -- Professor of Chemical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)
  • Roger N. Beachy -- Professor Emeritus of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Vicki L. Chandler -- Dean of Natural Science at Minerva Schools at KGI
  • James S. Jackson -- Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology; Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies Director and Research Professor of the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • Sethuraman Panchanathan -- Executive Vice President; Chief Research and Innovation Officer; Knowledge Enterprise Development, Arizona State University

Terms expire May 10, 2022

  • Arthur Bienenstock -- Professor Emeritus of Photon Science, Stanford University *
  • W. Kent Fuchs, President, University of Florida 
  • W. Carl Lineberger -- E.U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of Colorado *
  • Victor R. McCrary, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Morgan State University 
  • Emilio F. Moran, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, Michigan State University 
  • Julia M. Phillips, Director Emeritus, Sandia National Laboratories 
  • Anneila I. Sargent -- Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy, California Institute of Technology * 

* Reappointed to second six-year term

Ex-Officio Member: France Córdova - Director, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia

 Executive Officer and NSB Office Director: Michael L. Van Woert, National Science Board Office, Arlington, Virginia


Media Contacts
Nadine Lymn, NSF, (703) 292-2490, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page:
NSF News:
For the News Media:
Science and Engineering Statistics:
Awards Searches: