Who We Are
Electron paths in a nanowire, including imperfections in the wire. Credit: Eric J. Heller, Harvard University
NSF leadership has two major components: a director who oversees NSF staff and management responsible for program creation and administration, merit review, planning, budget and day-to-day operations; and a 24-member National Science Board (NSB) of eminent individuals that meets six times a year to establish the overall policies of the foundation. The director and all Board members serve six year terms. Each of them, as well as the NSF deputy director, is appointed by the President of the United States. Only the NSF director and deputy director are confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Alexandria, VA, headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General.
NSF is divided into the following seven directorates that support science and engineering research and education: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources. Each is headed by an assistant director and each is further subdivided into divisions like materials research, ocean sciences and behavioral and cognitive sciences.
Within NSF's Office of the Director, the Office of Integrative Activities also supports research and researchers. Other sections of NSF are devoted to financial management, award processing and monitoring, legal affairs, outreach and other functions. The Office of the Inspector General examines the foundation's work and reports to the NSB and Congress.
Each year, NSF supports an average of about 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students at universities, laboratories and field sites all over the United States and throughout the world, from Alaska to Alabama to Africa to Antarctica. You could say that NSF support goes "to the ends of the earth" to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.
The 24-member National Science Board establishes overall policies for NSF.
NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan
Credit: National Science Foundation/Photo by Stephen Voss