Souvaine Tapped for NSF Leadership Role

Tufts’ vice provost for research says she’ll work to advance the country’s scientific enterprise

Diane Souvaine, the vice provost for research at Tufts, has been elected vice chair of the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation.

It is the first time in NSF history that women hold the three top leadership positions: director, chair and vice chair. During its May meeting, the National Science Board (NSB) also elected a new board chair, Maria Zuber, the vice president for research at MIT. France A. Córdova, president emerita of Purdue University and former chief scientist for NASA, was appointed NSF director in 2014.

Diane Souvaine. Photo: Alonso NicholsDiane Souvaine. Photo: Alonso Nichols
The 24-member NSB serves as an independent advisor to both the president and Congress on policies related to science and engineering and education in those disciplines. In addition to major reports, the NSB publishes policy papers and statements on issues of importance to U.S. science and engineering.

President George W. Bush first appointed Souvaine, a theoretical computer scientist, to the NSB in 2008 and President Barack Obama appointed her to a second six-year term in 2014.

“I am truly honored and humbled by this vote of confidence from such esteemed colleagues,” Souvaine said. “I do not take this responsibility lightly.”

She noted the achievements of the National Science Foundation over the course of its 66-year history, including the discovery of gravitational waves at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the biennial report Science and Engineering Indicators, which focuses on the state of the nation’s science and engineering enterprise.

“I look forward to working with Congress, the administration, the science and education communities, and NSF staff to continue the agency’s legacy in advancing the progress of science,” she said.

Souvaine’s computational geometry research has commercial applications in materials engineering, microchip design, robotics and computer graphics. She is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. She served for more than two years in the directorate of the NSF Science and Technology Center on Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science.

She also works to enhance pre-college programs in mathematics and computing education and to advance opportunities for women and minorities in mathematics, science and engineering.

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