News Release

Former astronaut to serve on the National Science Board

January 27, 2017

Former astronaut to serve on the National Science Board

Ellen Ochoa, Director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and a veteran of four space flights, is the National Science Board’s (NSB) final member of the class of 2022.

“We are thrilled with the addition of Dr. Ochoa to the National Science Board,” said Maria Zuber, NSB Chair. “She brings a unique perspective and set of experiences that promise to be of great service to the National Science Foundation.”

“A brilliant engineer, former astronaut and a pioneer for women in science, we are honored to welcome Dr. Ochoa to the National Science Board,” NSF Director France Córdova said.  “Her many years of leadership in fearless pursuit of advancement in science and engineering will prove immensely valuable to NSF’s mission and goals.”

Ochoa is Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Johnson Space Center based in Houston, Texas. She previously served as Deputy Director and Director of Flight Crew Operations at the Center. From 1990 – 2007, Dr. Ochoa was an Astronaut at the Center and first traveled to space in 1993 when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery. She flew three additional missions, logging nearly 1,000 hours in orbit. Previously, Ochoa was Branch Chief and Group Lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center and began her career as a research engineer at Sandia National Laboratories after receiving her Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Ochoa is a co-inventor on three patents and holds NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be appointed to the National Science Board,” said Dr. Ochoa. “I look forward to meeting my fellow members and to contributing to the discussion on our nation’s science policy.”

In October 2016, the White House appointed new members W. Kent Fuchs, President of the University of Florida, Victor R. McCrary, Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Morgan State University, Emilio F. Moran, Professor at the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations at Michigan State University, and Julia M. Phillips, Executive Emeritus of Sandia National Laboratories. 

President Obama reappointed Arthur Bienenstock, Professor Emeritus of Photon Science at Stanford University, W. Carl Lineberger, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Colorado, and Anneila I. Sargent, Professor of Astronomy at California Institute of Technology to each serve a second six-year term. Together with Ochoa, these eight members will serve on the NSB until May of 2022.


About the National Science Board

Jointly, the NSB and the Director—the ex-officio 25th member—pursue the goals and function of the Foundation. NSB establishes NSF policies within the framework of applicable national policies set forth by the President and Congress. NSB identifies issues critical to NSF's future, approves the agency's strategic budget directions and the annual budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget, and new major programs and awards. The NSB also provides the President and Congress with a biennial report on U.S. progress in science and technology, providing comparisons to other nations in the areas of research and development, STEM education, and workforce training.

The President appoints Board members for six-year terms and may reappoint members for a second term. Members are drawn primarily from universities and industry and selected for their eminence in research, education, and records of distinguished service. Collectively, the Board represents a variety of science and engineering disciplines and regions across the United States.


Media Contacts

Nadine Lymn, National Science Board, (703) 292-2490,

Isidro Reyna, NASA Johnson Space Center, (281) 483-8853,

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2019, its budget is $8.1 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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