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News Release 96-060

Bennett Bertenthal Will Lead NSF Directorate

October 18, 1996

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Bennett I. Bertenthal, a psychologist at the University of Virginia who specializes in studying the origins and early development of perception, action and representation, has been named the next Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Directorate of Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE).

Bertenthal replaces Cora B. Marrett, who returned September 30 to the University of Wisconsin-Madison after four years as head of SBE.

Bertenthal will lead NSF's research activities that build fundamental scientific knowledge of human behavior and characteristics, and social and economic systems and organizations. He will also direct activities in support of the Foundation's international endeavors, providing U.S. scientists and engineers access to the world's leading centers of science and engineering research and education. He will oversee the collection, analysis and publication of data on the status of the nation's science and engineering resources.

Bertenthal will assume his NSF duties full-time in early January 1997. He expects to become involved in SBE activities immediately, however, planning frequent visits to the Foundation as a consultant in the remaining weeks of 1996. Jeff Fenstermacher, who has served as executive officer of SBE since 1991, is serving as Acting Assistant Director until Bertenthal begins his official duties next year.

A professor of psychology and a University of Virginia faculty member since 1979, Bertenthal has been director of the university's Developmental Training Program since 1989. He has received a number of prestigious grants and awards, including the American Psychological Association (APA)'s Boyd R. McCandless Young Scientist Award for distinguished research in 1985, and a Career Development Award (1985-90) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has published numerous articles and chapters on the development of perception and action, the perception and production of biological motions, motion processing in infants and adults, early experience and development, developmental methodology, and nonlinear modeling of posture and gait. He has reviewed grants for NIH and NSF for the past 10 years, and recently completed a two-year term chairing a Department of Health and Human Services' research grant subcommittee on human development and aging. He currently co-chairs the program committee for the Society for Research in Child Development, is a member-at-large of an APA division executive committee, and serves on the editorial board of the journal "Developmental Psychology," where he was associate editor 1988-1990.

Bertenthal is a member of the Society for Research in Child Development, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the Psychonomic Society, the International Society for Infant Studies, the International Society for the Study of Posture and Gait, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

He holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in developmental psychology, both from the University of Denver. His B.A. in psychology is from Brandeis University.


Media Contacts
George Chartier, NSF, (703) 306-1070, 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.

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