Alan I. Leshner was appointed Interim Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in July 2019. He previously served as AAAS CEO and Executive Publisher of the Science family of journals from 2001 to 2015, when he became CEO Emeritus. AAAS was founded in 1848 and is the world’s largest, multi-disciplinary scientific and engineering society.
Before coming to AAAS, Leshner was Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) from 1994 to 2001. Before becoming Director of NIDA, Leshner had been the Deputy Director and Acting Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). He went to NIMH from the National Science Foundation (NSF), where he held a variety of senior positions focusing on basic research in the biological, behavioral and social sciences, science policy, and science education.
Leshner went to NSF after 10 years at Bucknell University, where he was Professor of Psychology. He has also held long-term appointments at the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center and as a Fulbright Scholar at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Leshner is the author of a textbook on the relationship between hormones and behavior, and has published extensively for both the scientific and lay communities on the biology of behavior, science and technology policy, science education, and public engagement with science.
Leshner received an undergraduate degree in psychology from Franklin and Marshall College, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physiological psychology from Rutgers University. He also has been awarded seven honorary Doctor of Science degrees. Leshner is an elected fellow of AAAS, the National Academy of Public Administration, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and many other professional societies. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and served two terms on its governing Council. He was appointed to the National Science Board by President Bush in 2004 and reappointed by President Obama in 2010.
The Honorable France A. Córdova is an astrophysicist and the 14th director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Córdova was nominated to this position by the President of the United States in 2013 and subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate. NSF is a $8.1B independent federal agency; it is the only government agency charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery, technological innovation, and STEM education.
Córdova has been a leader in science, engineering and education for more than three decades. She has a distinguished career in both higher education and government; her contributions in multi-spectrum research on x-ray and gamma ray sources and space-borne instrumentation have made her an internationally recognized astrophysicist.
She is president emerita of Purdue University, where she led the university to record levels of research funding, reputational rankings, and student retention and graduation rates. She focused her tenure on launching tomorrow's leaders, translating research to innovation and meeting global challenges. She established a new College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue, as well as a new Global Research Policy Institute, and participated in state-wide initiatives to boost public-private research collaborations.
Córdova is also chancellor emerita of the University of California, Riverside, where she was a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy and laid the foundation for a new medical school, California's first public medical school in over 40 years, and focused on student diversity and inclusion. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, where Cordova was vice chancellor for research and professor of physics, she led a campus-wide effort to support convergence in blue-sky research areas.
Previously, Córdova served as NASA's chief scientist, representing NASA to the larger scientific community and infusing the activities of the agency -- including the International Space Station, then under construction -- with the scientific goals of the broader community. She was the youngest person and first woman to serve as NASA's chief scientist and was awarded the agency's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal.
Prior to joining NASA, she was on the faculty of the Pennsylvania State University where she headed the department of astronomy and astrophysics. Córdova was also deputy group leader in the Earth and space sciences division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and her doctorate in physics from the California Institute of Technology.
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), where she chaired the Committee on Strategy and Budget. As NSF director, she is an ex officio member of the NSB.
Córdova's scientific contributions have been in the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources and space-borne instrumentation. She has published more than 150 scientific papers. She was co-principal investigator for a telescope experiment that is currently flying on the satellite XMM-Newton, a cornerstone mission of the European Space Agency.
For her scientific contributions, Córdova has been awarded several honorary doctorates, including ones from Purdue, Duke and Dartmouth Universities. She was honored as a Kilby Laureate, recognized for "significant contributions to society through science, technology, innovation, invention and education." Córdova was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a National Associate of the National Academies. She is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS).
Córdova is married to Christian J. Foster, a science educator, and they have two adult children
Chief Program Officer, AAAS
Maureen Kearney, AAAS Chief Program Officer, joined AAAS in February 2018. Kearney brings an extensive mix of academic, management and public engagement experience to AAAS. Prior to joining AAAS, she served as Associate Director for Science at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Before that, she served as Program Director and Acng Division Director in the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation. Previously, she worked as a research curator at the Field Museum of Natural History and a member of the Committee of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. She received her PhD in Biological Sciences, with a research focus on phylogenetics, evolution and biodiversity science from George Washington University. As the Chief Program Officer at AAAS, Kearney oversees programs such as Science and Technology Fellowships; Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights & Law; Science Diplomacy; STEM Education; and Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion.
Senior Advisor, and Director of Sea Change
Shirley M. Malcom, Senior Advisor, and Director of SEA Change at AAAS, has served as a program officer in the NSF Science Education Directorate; an assistant professor of biology, University of North Carolina, Wilmington; and a high school science teacher. Malcom received her PhD in Ecology from the Pennsylvania State University; Master's in Zoology from the University of California, Los Angeles; and Bachelor's with distinction in Zoology from the University of Washington. In addition, she holds 17 honorary degrees. Malcom serves on several boards, including the Heinz Endowments, Public Agenda, Digital Promise, and the National Mathematics and Science Initiative. She serves as a trustee of Caltech and as a Regent of Morgan State University. In 2003, Malcom received the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the highest award given by the Academy. She was a member of the National Science Board, the policymaking body of NSF, from 1994 to 1998, and of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology from 1994 to 2001.
Division Director, NSF DUE
Dr. Sylvia M. James is the Deputy Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), where she oversees aspects of directorate program development, staffing, performance management, and internal and external communications. Prior to her role as Deputy Assistant Director, James served as the Director of the Division of Human Resource Development (HRD). As Division Director, she managed a $148 million budget and a talented team of scientific and administrative staff. During her 17-year tenure at NSF, James has served in numerous capacities, including as the Acting EHR Deputy Assistant Director, Acting Director of the Division of Human Resource Development, Acting Director and Acting Deputy Division Director of the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, Lifelong Learning Cluster Coordinator, and Lead Program Director/Program Director for several EHR programs including ISE, ITEST, ATE, ASCEND, and AYS.
James currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Federal Coordination in STEM (FC-STEM) Interagency Working Group on Inclusion in STEM (IWGIS) and was a member of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Student Science Enrichment Program (SSEP) Advisory Committee from 2012-2016. She has served as an education consultant for science education radio, youth publications, and museums and an adjunct science faculty member. Dr. James holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Loyola University, a Master of Science degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Doctorate in Science Education from Morgan State University, all located in Baltimore, Maryland
Director, NSF DUE
Robin Wright currently serves as director of the Division for Undergraduate Education. She is at NSF on a temporary assignment from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Biology Teaching and Learning, for which she was the founding head. She previously served as Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the College of Biological Sciences and as professor of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development.
Prior to focusing exclusively on undergraduate education research and development, her lab used genetic, cell biological, ecological, and evolutionary approaches to explore cold adaptation, using baker’s yeast as a model organism. Her laboratory was known as a great place for undergraduates to pursue research and she has mentored nearly 100 undergraduate researchers over the past 27 years. At Minnesota, she helped to develop and co-teaches the Nature of Life orientation program and has been a leader in development of Foundations of Biology, an innovative, team-based introductory biology course for biological sciences majors. She has led HHMI- and NSF-supported initiatives to deliver discovery-based research experience to the thousands of majors and non-majors who take biology classes in the College of Biological Sciences each year.
Dr. Wright served on the Education Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology and as chair of the Education Committee for the Genetics Society of America.She was a senior editor of Life Science Education, and is the founding Editor-in-Chief of a new biology curriculum journal called CourseSource.She was a member of the Executive Committee for the HHMI/National Academies of Science-sponsored Summer Institute on Biology Education and the National Academies Scientific Teaching Alliance.During this work, she was named as a National Academies Biology Education Mentor for fourteen consecutive years.She was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was received the Elizabeth Jones Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education from the Genetics Society of America
Deputy Division Director, NSF DUE
Lee Zia is the Deputy Division Director for DUE. He served as the Lead Program Director for the NSF National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library (NSDL) Program from its inception in FY 2000 to its sunsetting in FY 2010. He served as a "rotator" in the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education during calendar years 1995 and 1996 while on leave from the Department of Mathematics at the University of New Hampshire. Zia rejoined the NSF as a permanent staff member in the fall of 1999. From November 2008 to December 2009, he served as a Commerce Science and Technology Fellow in the Office of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. Most recently he served as the Lead Program Director for the STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP). Zia holds degrees in mathematics from the University of North Carolina (B.S.) and the University of Michigan (M.S.), and applied mathematics from Brown University (Ph.D.).
Assistant Director, NSF EHR
Karen Marrongelle is the Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Education and Human Resources (EHR). She leads the EHR directorate in supporting research that enhances learning and teaching to achieve excellence in U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathemacs (STEM) education. Prior to joining NSF, Marrongelle was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Portland State University and Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, where she oversaw 24 departments and programs across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. In addition to her work as dean, Marrongelle has served as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Portland State University since 2001. Prior to her appointment as dean, she held positions as the Vice Chancellor for Academic Strategies and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Standards and Collaboration with the Oregon University System. From 2007-2009, Marrongelle served on a rotation as a program officer at NSF and led numerous grants, collaborating with researchers nationally and internationally to improve undergraduate mathematics education and K-12 mathematics professional development.
Marrongelle has a bachelor's degree in mathematics and philosophy from Albright College, a master's degree in mathematics from Lehigh University and a doctorate in mathematics education from the University of New Hampshire.
Mr. Wilbert J. Ferdinand, Jr. recently retired from ExxonMobil as Risk Management Advisor at the Baton Rouge Refinery. Over the course of the past three decades, he served in numerous capacities focused on recruitment and development opportunities for underrepresented students in STEM disciplines. For several years he served as Team Captain for ExxonMobil’s Southern University Engineering Recruiting Team and coordinated field trips for K-12 students to visit ExxonMobil facilities to improve their awareness of and foster interest in STEM career opportunities. He served as an industry advisor for Southern University’s NSF-funded HBCU-UP program. Mr. Ferdinand continues to serve as a member of Southern University’s Business and Industry Cluster where he conducts interview skills workshops; serves as a guest speaker; and provides input into curriculum development and modifications. For the past three years he has served as a consultant and presenter on Rice University’s Capacity Building for Competitive S-STEM Proposals project, which is funded by NSF; more recently, he joined the advisory and presentation team for a similar project focused on two-year colleges in the western United States. Mr. Ferdinand is an experienced NSF reviewer who has lent his expertise to evaluate workforce development components of proposals to various programs over the past five years.
Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
Dr. Daniel Greenstein became the fifth chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education on September 4, 2018. In that role, he serves as chief executive officer of the State System, which operates Pennsylvania’s 14 public universities, serving more than 100,000 students. The chancellor works with the Board of Governors to recommend and develop overall policies for the System.
Greenstein previously led the Postsecondary Success strategy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he worked with other higher education leaders across the country on initiatives designed to raise educational-attainment levels and to promote economic mobility, especially among low-income and minority students. He developed and implemented a national strategy for increasing the number of degrees awarded and for reducing the attainment gaps among majority and non-majority students at U.S. colleges and universities.
Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University
She is best known for her innovative research on food and housing insecurity in higher education, having led the three largest national studies on the subject, and for her work on making public higher education free. She is the recipient of the William T. Grant Foundation’s Faculty Scholars Award and the American Educational Research Association’s Early Career Award, and in 2016 POLITICO magazine named her one of the top 50 people shaping American politics. Her latest book, Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream (University of Chicago, 2016), is an Amazon best-seller and a 2018 winner of the Grawemeyer Award, and has been featured on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. The Chronicle of Higher Education calls her “a defender of impoverished students and a scholar of their struggles,” she is ranked 6th in the nation among education scholars according to Education Week, and in April 2018 the Carnegie Corporation awarded her the Carnegie Fellowship.
Senior Director, Constellations Center for Equity in Computing, Georgia Tech
Kamau Bobb is a national authority in STEM education. He is the founding Senior Director of the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech. He is an engineer and science and technology policy scholar whose work focuses on the relationship between equity for students and communities of color in the STEM enterprise, large educational systems, and the social and structural conditions that influence contemporary American life.
Assistant Professor, University of New Hampshire
David Mattingly is an assistant professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire who primarily studies quantum gravity and black holes. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth, spent a little time at UCSB until the beach and sun just got to be too much, and then finished his Ph.D. at University of Maryland. Besides his physics career he has worked in software development and as a K-12 educational consultant for Journeys in Film, designing K-12 curricula for Hollywood movies and mini-series, and for brilliant.org, designing engaging physics problems and games for students around the world. His S-STEM work is geared towards assisting thirty students from urban areas in New Hampshire get to and through UNH in a STEM field, with an emphasis on workforce development. As part of this work, he also runs a longitudinal study on the effects of university and high school supports on the students' academic performance as well as their cognitive and non-cognitive skill sets.
Associate Dean of Diversity and Access in the College of Engineering, Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Faculty Director of the ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change
Eve Riskin received her BS degree in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T. and her graduate degrees in EE from Stanford. Since 1990, she has been in the EE Department at the University of Washington where she is now Associate Dean of Diversity and Access in the College of Engineering, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Faculty Director of the ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change. She is PI of UW’s successful STARS program. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and the 2006 Hewlett-Packard Harriett B. Rigas Award. She is a Fellow of the IEEE.
President of the Washington Academy of Science, Program Manager Contract for the United States Air Forces
Judy Staveley is the current President of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Program Manager contractor for the United States Air Forces, former community college Professor, author in forensics science, international speaker and a professional athlete.
Senior VP, College and Career Access, College Board
Steve leads work to ensure students access and maximize college and career opportunities. As head of the College and Career Access division, Steve oversees enrollment and financial aid programs including CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®, Student Search Service®, the Access to Opportunity™ initiative, and scholarship programs. Additionally, he oversees the partnership with Khan Academy to provide free, high quality SAT preparation for students, as well as the partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. These efforts are designed to increase college readiness and college completion for all students, with a special focus on lower-income students, first-generation college students, and students of color.
President, Miami Dade College
An American by choice, Eduardo Padrón arrived in the United States as a teenage refugee in 1961. Since 1995, he has served as President of Miami Dade College (MDC), the largest institution of higher education in America with more than 165,000 students. He is credited with elevating MDC into a position of national prominence among the best and most recognized U.S. colleges and universities. An economist by training, Dr. Padrón earned his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., for being a prominent national voice for access and inclusion in higher education. In 2009, TIME magazine included him on the list of “The 10 Best College Presidents.”
Director, Worldwide Education Programs and Global Lead, AWS Educate Amazon Web Services
Ken is an education technology leader with 20+ years-experience spearheading initiatives that improve educational outcomes and disrupt traditional delivery models. Ken founded AWS Educate, Amazon’s global initiative to dramatically accelerate cloud learning and prepare students for a cloud-enabled workforce. Program demand has far outstripped projections, with membership composed of hundreds of thousands of students and over 2,400 institutions including all of the top ten leading global computer science higher education institutions. Subsequent AWS Educate innovations include: 2016’s launch of “Cloud Career Pathways,” an education-to-employment environment with learning pathways, micro-credentials, and a job board; 2017’s opening up of the program to students 14 to 17 years-old and creation of Cloud Literacy content; and 2018’s launch of full degree offerings, beginning with vocational institutions and community colleges.
Ken's roles prior to AWS included: Senior Vice President, Business Development and Marketing for One Economy, where he helped guide some of the largest public private partnerships in digital education; Vice President of Marketing for e-commerce textbook provider VarsityBooks, where he contributed to its IPO and launched its marketing services division; and strategic advisor to Sprint Nextel. In 2014, Ken was appointed to the D.C. Mayor’s Technology and Innovation Inclusion Council, where he currently chairs the Workforce Development committee. He also sits on the edX customer advisory board and advises various educational institutions. Ken holds an MBA from Georgetown University, an MPP from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, and a BA from Cornell University.
Undergraduate Student, University of Texas at Arlington
Abigail Derton is a senior at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) studying pure mathematics. Abigail is a Cherokee Indian and was homeschooled in Corinth, Texas. She joined UTA as a transfer student after studying civil engineering for two years at North Central Texas College (NCTC). Through working as a math tutor at both NCTC and UTA, Abigail grew her passion for mathematics. This passion persuaded her to change majors from civil engineering to pure mathematics in the Fall of 2017.
Abigail has participated in the S-STEM program at UTA (called SURGE) since the Fall of 2018 and is an active member of MAA. She attended the Field of Dreams Conference in 2018 where she developed an interest in mathematical biology. She is now a researcher in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and is currently working on a project in computational neuroscience.
Recently, Abigail was accepted into the Biostatistics and Computational Biology Summer Research Program at Harvard, to take place in the Summer of 2019. Through this program, she hopes to learn how her quantitative skills can be applied to rising problems in biology. Her goal is to utilize her mathematical skills to progress medical understanding and thereby save and improve countless lives.
Graduate Student, Michigan State University
Nicholas is a junior studying Chemical Engineering and Economics at Michigan State University (MSU). He has been a researcher for Beaumont Hospital, the Michigan State University chemistry department, and the University of Pittsburgh in conjunction with the Veterans Administration. Nicholas has worked as a NSF REU researcher and is a member of a scholarship cohort sponsored by the NSF. Nicholas is also a member of the Michigan State Honors College. Through his role in the Honors College Nicholas has volunteered in both the Lansing and East Lansing community, providing tutoring and mentorship to at-risk high school students.
Nicholas’ research experiences are quite broad, having performed in a variety of benchtop and analytical roles. His experiences have not been limited to research as he is also a Co-Op at LyondellBasell, working as a process engineering Co-Op. Nicholas also represents the MSU College of Engineering as a Peer Leader. A role in which students help their freshman peers adjust to college life and become engaged with professional resources. Nicholas is always looking for ways to get involved on campus. Having seen firsthand the impact of quality mentoring, he aims to utilize himself as a resource for younger students.
In his free time, Nicholas is an avid reader and advocate for a variety of causes. Having been born with a rare genetic disorder, he works with a national society of patient advocates for others with the disorder. He has advocated to both members of the Senate and House of Representatives on various legislative policies ranging from research funding to newborn screening.
Graduate Student, University of Pennsylvania
Rachel is a Master of Environmental Studies candidate with a concentration in Environmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to her graduate studies, she attended Gwynedd Mercy University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. At Gwynedd Mercy University, Rachel participated in ecological research focusing on macroinvertebrate diversity and stream health as well as studying the metabolic pathways utilized by microbes for plastic degradation. Throughout her time at Gwynedd Mercy University and University of Pennsylvania, Rachel worked or interned for the Philadelphia Zoo, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the United States Department of Agriculture, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and Delaware State Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Currently, her main focus is aquatic biology research. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, community service, and traveling. Her most recent trip was to Puerto Rico to study the effects of natural disasters on ecology around the entire island. Her next trip is to India to study water sanitation in schools.