News Release 21-008

NSF selects Susan S. Margulies to head the Engineering Directorate

Georgia Tech and Emory University professor brings strategic vision, focus on translational research to new role

Susan S. Margulies is the first biomedical engineer to head the NSF Directorate for Engineering.

Susan S. Margulies is the first biomedical engineer to head the NSF Directorate for Engineering.

July 1, 2021

The U.S. National Science Foundation has selected Susan S. Margulies to head the Directorate for Engineering. She is the first biomedical engineer to lead the engineering directorate, which supports fundamental research in emerging and frontier basic research areas.

Since 2017, Margulies has been professor and chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, housed jointly at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. Previously, she held positions as professor of bioengineering and neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. She has won numerous awards and honors, including fellowships from the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Biomedical Engineering Society, as well as numerous other recognitions throughout her career. Margulies is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine.

Margulies is internationally recognized for spurring paradigm shifts in two fields simultaneously -- pediatric traumatic brain injury and lung injury associated with mechanical ventilators. Her overall goal is to open avenues for prevention, intervention and treatment of these injuries.

"Susan Margulies' extensive experience and expertise is a valuable addition to the National Science Foundation's work to advance the frontiers of science and engineering research," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "Her strong leadership combined with her deep knowledge of research translation will help accelerate our nation's progress to be at the vanguard of discovery and innovation. I am looking forward to her insights and perspectives."

NSF's engineering directorate enhances U.S. innovation through its centers, partnerships, and small business programs and is a driving force behind the training and development of the U.S. engineering workforce. By making education an essential element of its grants and centers, and by supporting research experiences for teachers, undergraduates, graduate students, and new faculty, the directorate helps prepare the future engineering workforce to innovate and compete in the global economy. By emphasizing interdisciplinary, high-risk, and potentially transformative engineering research, the directorate encourages the research community to tackle increasingly complex problems and advance the frontiers of knowledge.

"It is my honor to join NSF to lead the engineering directorate. This is a moment in our nation's history when engineering and science are celebrated and supported as pathways to address urgent crises and improve our society and economy," said Margulies. "The call to serve our nation and our field resonates with my values of innovation, rigor, partnership, and inclusion."

Margulies' career has been marked by accomplishments such as creating and directing unique cross-campus research, training, educational and fundraising initiatives to improve faculty and student diversity, inclusion, and engagement across public and private institutions. She has been instrumental in leading educational programs to teach students how to use innovative approaches to solve important problems at the interface of medicine and engineering.

In her new role, she hopes to use bold, integrated national and international strategies to draw on all types of research, exploratory, use-inspired, challenge-driven, translation to practice optimization, and production, while simultaneously expanding our nation’s engineering workforce. "We can see the nation is turning to NSF to address some of the most pressing challenges facing science and engineering. To do that, we must forge partnerships with industry, agencies, foundations, institutions of higher learning, communities, and countries," Margulies added.

Margulies has a bachelor's degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University and master’s and doctoral degrees in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Margulies will begin her NSF appointment on August 16, 2021.


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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 2022 budget of $8.8 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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