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Lasers & Sources

MIT dean nominated to head NSF; acting director appointed

SPIE Newsroom 
7 June 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Subra Suresh, dean of the MIT School of Engineering, to serve as the next director of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Trained as a mechanical engineer, Suresh has made dramatic contributions to a range of fields in engineering and science including materials science, nanotechnology and the life sciences. His most recent work was on the red blood cell and its nanobiomechanical properties as they influence a variety of diseases.

Suresh, who will replace Arden L. Bement Jr., if confirmed, has made significant advances and created a range of new experimental methodologies to unravel the inner workings of such diseases as malaria.

Acting NSF Director Named

Cora MarrettCora Marrett, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been named NSF acting director. Marrett assumed her new duties June 1.

Marrett has a long history as a top administrator with the science agency and has been serving as acting deputy director of NSF since January 2009.

In a memo, Arden L. Bement Jr., the departing director of NSF, said Marrett's appointment was made after consultation with the White House about the status of the search for a new director for the agency.

NSF is a primary funder of basic scientific research in the United States, and in fiscal year 2009 had a budget of nearly $6.5 billion.

Bement is leaving NSF to direct the Global Policy Research Institute at Purdue University.

Marrett was a UW-Madison faculty member in sociology and Afro-American Studies from 1974-1996. From 1996-2000 she was senior vice chancellor and provost at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. In 2001, she was appointed as the UW System's chief academic officer.