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Fact Sheet
National Science Board

May 26, 2016

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 and Vice President for Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Deborah L. Ball -- William H. Payne Collegiate Chair; Arthur F. Thurnau Professor; Dean of the School of Education; The 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 and Vice Provost for Research at Tufts University and Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics
  • Robert M. Groves -- Provost, Georgetown University
  • G. P. "Bud" Peterson -- President, Georgia Tech
  • John L. Anderson -- Professor of Chemical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)
  • Roger N. Beachy -- Executive Director of the World Food Center at the University of California, Davis
  • Vicki L. Chandler -- Dean of Natural Science at Minerav 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 -- Senior Vice-President, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED), Arizona State University

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, nlymn@nsf.gov

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) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/



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