May 20, 2016
Gordon Field House and Activities Center

France A. Cordova

France A. Córdova is the 14th director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the only government agency charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery, technological innovation, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. NSF is a $7.2-billion independent federal agency, with a mission that is vital to supporting our nation’s economy, security, and ability to remain a global leader.

Córdova is president emerita of Purdue University, where she served as president from 2007 to 2012. Prior to her tenure at Purdue, she was chancellor of the University of California, Riverside and vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

From 1993 to 1996, Córdova was chief scientist at NASA. She is a recipient of NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal. She has been a professor of physics and astronomy at UC-Riverside, UC-Santa Barbara and the Pennsylvania State University. Córdova was deputy group leader in the Earth and space sciences division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Her scientific contributions are in the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources and space-borne instrumentation.

More recently, Córdova served as chair of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution and on the board of trustees of Mayo Clinic. She also served as a member of the National Science Board (NSB). As NSF director, she is an ex officio member of the NSB.

Córdova has a B.A. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for Women in Science, a National Associate of the National Academies, and has been awarded many honorary doctorates. Córdova is married to Christian J. Foster, a science educator, and they have two adult children.