France A. Cordova
France A. Cordova is President Emeritus of Purdue University Astrophysics and Astronomy
B.A ., Stanford University, 1969
Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1979
France A. Córdova became the eleventh President of Purdue University on July 16, 2007. She was installed on January 23, 2012, to a three-year term as Chair of the Smithsonian Institution's governing board, The Board of Regents. She had been appointed to The Board of Regents for a term of six years by a Joint Resolution of Congress in 2009.
Prior to joining Purdue, Córdova served as Chancellor at the University of California (UC) Riverside from 2002 to 2007, where she was also a Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy. An internationally recognized astrophysicist, Córdova also served as professor of Physics and Vice-Chancellor for Research at UC Santa Barbara. Before joining UC Santa Barbara in 1996, she was Chief Scientist at NASA from 1993 to 1996, serving as the primary scientific advisor to the NASA administrator and the principal interface between NASA headquarters and the broader scientific community.
Córdova headed the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University from 1989 to 1993. She was a member of the staff of the Space Astronomy and Astrophysics Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1979 to 1989, where she also served as Deputy Group Leader.
Córdova's scientific career contributions have been in the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources, and space-borne instrumentation. She has published more than 150 scientific papers, and has a current experiment flying on the European Space Agency's X-Ray Multi-Mirror Mission. She is the winner of NASA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, and was recognized as a 2000 Kilby Laureate, for "contributions to society through science, technology, innovation, invention, and education." She was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and is a National Associate of the National Academies. She is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Association for Women In Science (AWIS).
In September 2007, Córdova was named to the board of directors of BioCrossroads, Indiana's initiative to grow the life sciences through a public-private collaboration that supports the region's research and corporate strengths while encouraging new business development. She was also named to the board of trustees for Mayo Clinic in May 2008.
The oldest of twelve children, Córdova attended Stanford University, where she graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in English, and, among other activities, conducted anthropological field work in a Zapotec Indian pueblo in Oaxaca, Mexico. She earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1979. In 1997, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.
Córdova is married to Christian J. Foster, a science educator. They have two children.
Córdova was appointed to the National Science Board in 2008. She currently chairs the Committee on Strategy and Budget.