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France A. Córdova Named President of the Science Philanthropy Alliance

The Science Philanthropy Alliance’s board today announced the selection of Dr. France A. Córdova as Alliance president. Dr. Córdova, who begins in the role effective immediately, previously served as a senior science advisor for the Alliance after completing her six-year term as director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2020.

“Dr. Córdova’s appointment as Alliance president,” remarked Harvey V. Fineberg, chair of the Alliance board and president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, “heralds a new era in support of science through private philanthropy. Dr. Córdova is a role model for a rising generation of scientists. Her record of achievement and experience as a leader for science in academia and government make her ideally equipped to lead the organization.”

“I am delighted to take up the presidency of the Science Philanthropy Alliance,” said Dr. Córdova. “There has never been a more important time for private philanthropy to step up to opportunities for discovery in basic science and to innovate in the search for solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time.”

In 2014, President Barack Obama nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Córdova as the fourteenth director of NSF. Prior to that appointment, Dr. Córdova served as president of Purdue University, chancellor of the University of California, Riverside, and as a member and chair of the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Córdova was a deputy group leader in the Earth and Space Sciences Division of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was the first woman to be appointed chief scientist at NASA, was head of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University, and was vice chancellor for research and professor of physics at University of California, Santa Barbara. Her scientific contributions focus on observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources, and space-based instrumentation.

Dr. Córdova earned a B.A. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. She has garnered many accolades and awards during her career, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the agency’s highest honor, the Women in Space Science Award from the Adler Planetarium, being named one of 80 Elite Hispanic Women by Hispanic Business Magazine, and receiving numerous honorary degrees. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, regent emerita of the Smithsonian Institution, and a distinguished fellow of the Council on Competitiveness. She chairs the Board of Trustees of the American Institute of Physics Foundation and serves on Caltech’s Board of Trustees.