NSF Symposium Celebrates 70th Anniversary

February 27, 2020

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) hosted a 70th Anniversary Symposium to reflect on the past, celebrate accomplishments, consider the current scientific landscape, and look towards the future. Please see a webcast of the day and a half long event (event agenda).

Established by Congress in 1950, the mission of the NSF is “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…”  NSF funds approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.

Current NSF Director, France Córdova, moderated a panel of former NSF directors. When asked to describe a memorable experience during their time as director, Dr. Walter Massey spoke about his experience establishing the Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences directorate. Previously, these sciences had been funded through the Directorate for Biological Sciences. Massey and other assistant directors recognized the importance of these sciences and the value of a stand-alone directorate and hired Dr. Cora Marrett to lead it. As many FABBS members are aware, this directorate supports basic research on people and society, with a focus on human behavior and social organizations. 

The 70th anniversary corresponds with the 75th anniversary of Science -The Endless Frontier which served as the foundation for creating the NSF. The new version now features a foreword by France A. Córdova, 14th Director of NSF, who will step down from the position in March. The President has announced his intention to nominate Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, Arizona State University, currently a member of the National Science Board.