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News Release 05-159

Kathie L. Olsen Becomes Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation

Leadership includes science administration, education and policy

NSF Deputy Director Kathie L. Olsen

NSF Deputy Director Kathie L. Olsen

September 12, 2005

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Kathie L. Olsen has become the 11th deputy director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, Olsen was sworn into the post by NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr. on Aug. 9.

In addition to general responsibilities as deputy director, Olsen will serve as chief operating officer managing the day-to-day activities of the Foundation. One of her first responsibilities will be to lead the updating of the Foundation's strategic plan as required every three years by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

"Dr. Olsen brings a breadth of experience in a number of research, policy and administrative areas that make her well suited to her duties at NSF," Bement said. "Most importantly, she's an NSF veteran who has hit the ground running."

Olsen joins NSF from the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where she was the associate director and deputy director for science and responsible for overseeing science and education policy including physical sciences, life sciences, environmental science, and behavioral and social sciences.

Prior to the OSTP post, Olsen served as chief scientist at NASA and acting associate administrator for their new Enterprise in Biological and Physical Research.

In the 1990's she was the senior staff associate for the Science and Technology Centers in the NSF Office of Integrative Activities and served for two years as acting deputy director for the Division of Integrative Biology and Neuroscience. She gained legislative experience as a Brookings Institute Legislative Fellow and as a staff member to Sen. Conrad Burns of Mont.

Olsen received her B.S. degree with honors from Chatham College, Pittsburgh, Pa., majoring in both biology and psychology and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her Ph.D. degree in neuroscience at the University of California, Irvine. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neuroscience at Children's Hospital of Harvard Medical School. Subsequently at SUNY-Stony Brook, she was both a research scientist at Long Island Research Institute and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the medical school. Her research on neural and genetic mechanisms underlying development and expression of behavior was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Olsen's awards include the NSF Director's Superior Accomplishment Award; the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society Award; the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Award for outstanding contributions in research and education; the Barry M. Goldwater Educator Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics-National Capital Section; the Barnard Medal of Distinction, which is the college's most significant recognition of individuals for demonstrated excellence in conduct of their lives and careers; and the NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal. She has also received honorary degrees from Chatham College, Clarkson University, and University of South Carolina.

Olsen replaces Joseph Bordogna, who resigned in June.


Media Contacts
Leslie Fink, NSF, (703) 292-5395, 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) 2017, 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.

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