agency leadership

National Board for Education Sciences Appointments Announced

President Biden has announced 15 appointments to the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES) within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). NBES is responsible for advising the Director of IES to ensure that the institutes priorities are consistent with it’s mission. NBES is also responsible for strengthening procedures for technical and scientific peer review, presenting recommendations to strengthen education research, soliciting advice and information from the field, and ensuring IES is compliant with the Education Sciences Reform Act. NBES has not held a meeting since the end of the Obama Administration in 2016. For more information on appointments, please refer…

ICYMI: Arati Prabhakar Confirmed as OSTP Director

In September, the Senate confirmed President Biden’s nominee for Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Arati Prabhakar, by a vote of 56-40. Prabhakar, who is a former Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), had been nominated in June to take charge of the office that has been led in the interim by OSTP Deputy Director for Science and Society Alondra Nelson (see previous COSSA coverage). Prabhakar is also expected to assume the role of the President’s science adviser, which had been carried out by former Director of the National Institutes of…

NSF Seeking Deputy SBE Director

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced they are recruiting for a deputy assistant director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. This position would support NSF’s Assistant Director for SBE Kellina Craig-Henderson in guiding the strategic goals and daily operations of the Directorate including the wide range of research programs and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). Applications for the position will be accepted through October 14. The position and its requirements may be found on USAJobs.

ICYMI: Department of Education Creates New Chief Economist Role, Appoints Jordan Matsudaira

In June, the Department of Education created a new Chief Economist position to work with the Chief Data Officer, the Institute for Education Sciences, the Budget Service, Financial Aid, and many other departments and organizations to streamline new innovations for students and borrowers, leading with evidence-based research to improve the education system. Specifically, the new position will work with partners to: 1. “Provide the best-possible analysis and advice to guide real-time policymaking. 2. Conduct rigorous research to further key elements of the Department’s learning agenda. 3. Build a culture of experimentation, including partnerships with leading social science researchers to pilot-test…

Renee Wegrzyn to be Named Inaugural Director of ARPA-H

On September 12, the Biden Administration released an announcement of the intent to appoint Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D. as the inaugural director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). The announcement for permanent leadership at the nascent agency has been anticipated since ARPA-H’s creation earlier this spring. Anthropologist Adam Russell has been leading the agency in the interim as Acting Deputy Director since May 2022 (see previous COSSA coverage). Dr. Wegrzyn comes to ARPA-H with a wealth of experience in biotechnology, including synthetic biology, gene editing, and biosecurity. She previously served in the private sector as vice president of…

Criminologist Alexis R. Piquero Sworn in as New Justice Statistics Director

On August 15, Alexis R. Piquero, Ph.D., was sworn in as Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) within the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Dr. Piquero, who takes the helm of the statistical agency primarily responsible for data related to crime and the justice system, was appointed by President Biden back in June. Piquero is a decorated criminologist, researcher, and author with over 25 years of experience and has been appointed to positions at organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences and OJP’s Science Advisory Board. Prior to his leadership at BJS, Piquero served…

Joan Sereno Named to Lead NSF’s Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences Division

Last month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the appointment of Joan Sereno as the next Division Director for the Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) within the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE). Sereno, a psycholinguist who will be coming to NSF as a rotator, is co-director of the Phonetics and Psycholinguistics Laboratory at the University of Kansas and chair of KU’s linguistics department. As BCS lead, Sereno will oversee the division’s research programs in cognitive science, anthropology, geography, psychology, and linguistics, among others. She will start in her NSF post on August 29, succeeding Marc Sebrechts who…

Kellina Craig-Henderson Tapped to Lead Social Science Directorate at NSF

On June 16, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that Dr. Kellina Craig-Henderson has been selected to serve as the Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Craig-Henderson, who has been serving as Acting Assistant Director of SBE since January, was the Deputy Assistant Director of SBE under Dr. Arthur “Skip” Lupia, the previous Assistant Director of SBE whose term expired last year. Craig-Henderson assumes the role with extensive experience as a professor of psychology and in other leadership roles at NSF. She was previously a Psychology and Afro-American Studies faculty member at the University of…

President Biden Expected to Nominate Former DARPA Director, Physicist to OSTP Post

On June 21, President Biden is expected to nominate Dr. Arati Prabhakar as the next Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Presidential Science Advisor. As previously reported, Dr. Alondra Nelson was named in February as the interim director of OSTP following the resignation of Eric Lander who stepped down after less than a year in the position amid allegations of workplace bullying. Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the National Institutes of Health, has been serving as the interim science advisor to the President. Upon Prabahaker’s confirmation, which is required for the OSTP…

Larry Tabak Named Acting Director for NIH, Questions Remain Regarding Presidential Nomination

On December 9, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that Larry Tabak, current principal deputy director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), would take leadership of NIH as acting director beginning on December 20. Current NIH director Francis Collins announced his intent to step down earlier this year after 15 years of service in the role as the agency’s director (see previous coverage for more details). Tabak has been a mainstay at NIH, serving as director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) for a decade prior to his naming as principal deputy…

Robert Santos Confirmed as Census Director

On November 4, the Senate voted 58-35 to confirm Robert Santos as the Director of the Census Bureau. Santos is currently the President of the American Statistical Association (ASA), a COSSA governing member. Upon his confirmation, Santos became the first person of color to lead the Census Bureau. Santos was nominated by President Biden in April to succeed Trump-appointee Steven Dillingham, who resigned in January after complaints from whistleblowers came to light (see previous coverage). Ron Jarmin has been Acting Director of the Bureau since Dillingham’s departure.

Bill Riley to Retire as Director of NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

On September 30, William T. Riley, Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Science Research (BSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), announced his retirement from NIH at the end of December 2021. OBSSR Deputy Director Christine Hunter will take over as Acting Director position until a permanent replacement is named. Riley, who has led BSSR efforts at NIH for the past seven years, has been a tremendous proponent of the social and behavioral sciences through his previous roles at NIH including in the National Cancer Institute (NCI),…

Search for U.S. Chief Statistician Reopened

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reopened the vacancy announcement for the Chief Statistician of the United States. The post has been vacant since the retirement of former Chief Statistician Nancy Potok at the end of 2019. The Chief Statistician oversees OMB’s Statistical Policy and Science Branch and is responsible for implementing cross-agency data and statistics policies, including the Federal Data Strategy and the implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. The window for applications closes on November 4.

Francis Collins Stepping Down as NIH Director

On October 5, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins announced his intent to step down from his position by the end of the year. Collins has indicated he would continue to work at NIH within the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) after his tenure ends. Collins, who took the helm of the agency in 2009 after 15 years of service as the director of NHGRI, is notable for being the longest serving presidentially appointed NIH director and for serving presidents from both major parties. In addition, Collins oversaw massive increases in the agency’s budget over…

Census Nominee Receives Committee Approval as Delayed 2020 Data Released

On August 4, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs voted (10-4) to advance the nomination of Dr. Robert Santos to lead the Census Bureau (see previous coverage). Santos now moves to consideration by the full Senate, but the timing of a vote to confirm him remains unclear. Ron Jarmin remains Acting Director of the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau released redistricting data from the 2020 Census on August 14, the second major data release from the decennial census. Compared with the previously released apportionment data, the redistricting data paints a much more detailed geographic and demographic picture…

NSF Seeks Candidates for SBE Leadership Positions

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated a national search for its next Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Dr. Arthur Lupia has served in this position since 2018. The Assistant Director for SBE oversees the directorate, which includes the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, the Division of Social and Economic Sciences, the SBE Office of Multidisciplinary Activities, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. The search committee will be led by Robert Groves, Executive Vice President and Provost at Georgetown University, and is seeking candidates with outstanding leadership capabilities; a deep…

Biden Nominates ARS Administrator to lead USDA Research

The Biden Administration has announced the nomination of Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young to serve as the Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE). The REE Under Secretary oversees the Department’s science and research activities, including the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Economic Research Service (ERS), and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Dr. Jacobs-Young is currently the Administrator of another REE agency, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and has also been serving as Acting REE Under Secretary. A Senate confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled.

EHR Director to Take on NSF COO Role

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named Dr. Karen Marrongelle as its next Chief Operating Office (COO) effective August 2, succeeding F. Fleming Crim, who has served in this role since 2018. Dr. Marrongelle has served as the Assistant Director for the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate since 2018. In a statement accompanying the announcement, NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said, “Karen Marrongelle is a strong and innovative leader with a proven track record of excellence and accomplishments.  I am delighted to have her taking on this important role at an amazing time for NSF.”

Senate Committee Considers Biden’s Census Pick

On July 15, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Robert L. Santos, the Biden Administration’s nominee to lead the U.S. Census Bureau (see previous coverage). In his opening statement, Santos, the current president of the American Statistical Association, described himself as a “a scientist, executive level manager, policy researcher, and long-time friend and supporter of the Census Bureau and the entire federal statistical system” and noted that while he would be serving in a politically appointed role, he is “not a politician.” COSSA joined over 30 stakeholder organizations…

Eric Lander Active in First Few Weeks as OSTP Director; Community Awaits PCAST Appointments

In the first few weeks since his confirmation on May 28, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Eric Lander has been active in advocating for President Biden’s ambitious science policy agenda, most notably the proposal for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), the DARPA-like research agency proposed to be housed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During the June 10-11 meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH, Lander presented a more thorough vision of ARPA-H’s role as a high risk, high reward vehicle to address specific societal questions….

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