Staff Directory

Leslie J. Rissler

(703) 292-4628
(703) 292-9064
W 12144
Program Director

Program Responsibilities:
Evolutionary Processes Cluster (EP)
Mid-Career Advancement (MCA)
Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS)


Dr. Rissler is an accomplished scientist and dedicated long-term civil servant. She has served as a permanent Program Director in DEB since 2015. Dr. Rissler received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from the University of Virginia, a Masters in biological sciences from Utah State University, and a Bachelor of Science in anthropology and life science from Indiana State University. Dr. Rissler was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Biological Informatics at the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to joining the NSF, she was Professor of Biological Sciences and Curator of Herpetology at the University of Alabama.  


Dr. Rissler has published broadly in the fields of biogeography, evolutionary biology and ecology. She received the Stephen Jay Gould Award from the Society for the Study of Evolution for her sustained work on advancing public understanding of science, and in 2022 was elected an AAAS Fellow for her distinguished contributions to the field of evolutionary biology, particularly for public understanding of evolution and advancement of underrepresented groups in science. At the NSF, Dr. Rissler serves on many cross-directorate groups, and was instrumental in the creation of the Mid-Career Advancement Program. She has received multiple NSF Director awards for her commitment to diversity and inclusion. Dr. Rissler has served as Acting Deputy Division Director in DEB on several occasions.