NSF mourns passing of Assistant Director Kellina Craig-Henderson

Kellina Craig-Henderson

Kellina Craig-Henderson

April 25, 2023

The National Science Foundation is mourning the death last week of Kellina Craig-Henderson, assistant director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE). Dr. Craig-Henderson had served in that role since June of 2022 and was a longtime and valued NSF leader.

Dr. Craig-Henderson served as acting assistant director of SBE from January to June of 2022, and before that as deputy assistant director of SBE, director for NSF's Tokyo Regional Office, and deputy division director of the Social and Economic Sciences Division.

Dr. Craig-Henderson was committed to broadening the participation of underrepresented groups and wrote eloquently about her experiences as an African American academic and her research on the importance of diversity to the scientific endeavor. At NSF, she led the establishment of the Build and Broaden and Science of Broadening Participation programs, two flagship efforts to advance expanded participation in social, behavioral and economic sciences. Her efforts resulted in federal support for research examining issues related to gender parity in STEM and minority participation in work settings.

“Kelli was an outstanding colleague and an inspirational leader both in her field and at NSF,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “Her numerous contributions to our nation have had a profound impact and will continue to live on.”

Dr. Craig-Henderson published her research in peer-reviewed journals as well as two books on interracial relationships. Her research program focused on studies of groups, cross-cultural, gender and race issues, as well as aggression and expatriation processes. She served on the faculty in the Department of Psychology and in the Afro-American Studies and Research Program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She also served in the Psychology Department at California State University, Long Beach, as well as Howard University, in Washington, DC.

Dr. Craig-Henderson received her bachelor’s from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and her master's in social science from the University of Chicago. She also earned a master’s and a Ph.D. in psychology from Tulane University.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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