The New York Academy of Sciences
STEM Supreme: France Córdova
Posted July 07, 2021
In this second episode of the webinar series STEM Supremes: Conversations with Women in Science, the Academy’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Brooke Grindlinger, interviewed leading astrophysicist and 14th Director of the United States’ National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. France Córdova. Her important contributions to the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, including multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources, and space-borne instrumentation, paved the way for her selection as the youngest person, and first woman, to serve as Chief Scientist at NASA. The first Hispanic woman to lead a University of California campus, as Chancellor at UC Riverside, she led transformational efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion among the student population, which garnered the university’s number 1 rating for social mobility by U.S. News & World Reports. As NSF Director, she instituted policies to better protect those most vulnerable to harassment in academic research environments. The conversation spans Córdova’s early career pivot from writer to scientist, advice for engaging kids in science, best practices in mentoring, strategies for balancing family and career, and the critical roles of passion and persistence in the pursuit of an impactful and satisfying career as a woman in STEM.
In this eBriefing, You’ll Learn:
- The role of multi-wavelength astronomy in observing and characterizing the universe, including double star systems
- The origin of heavy metals such as gold and platinum
- Tangible actions academic leaders can take to foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion among the student population
- Steps funding agencies and academic administrators can take to foster enhanced recruitment and retention of women in STEM careers
- Tactics developed and deployed by the National Science Foundation to address harassment in the academic research environment
- The growing role of philanthropy in supporting basic science research and discovery
A full transcript of this conversation is available for download here.
France Córdova, PhD
14th Director, US National Science Foundation
Dr. Córdova is an internationally respected physicist who has made important contributions to the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma-ray sources and space-borne instrumentation. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and her doctorate in physics from the California Institute of Technology. From 1993 to 1996, Dr. Córdova was NASA’s Chief Scientist, the youngest person and first woman to serve in this position, where she represented NASA to the larger scientific community and infused the activities of the agency with the scientific goals of the broader community. Dr. Córdova's distinguished career in higher education includes faculty positions at Pennsylvania State University, the University of California, Santa Barbara and University of California, Riverside, where she was chancellor from 2002 to 2007. She is also president emerita of Purdue University, having served as president from 2007 to 2012. In May 2021, Córdova was named president of the Science Philanthropy Alliance.
Brooke Grindlinger, PhD
New York Academy of Sciences
Read more about Dr. Grindlinger, the Academy’s Chief Scientific Officer, here.