NSF director to lead new Purdue global institute

February 4, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The National Science Foundation director has been named to lead Purdue University's new Global Policy Research Institute.

Arden Bement

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Arden L. Bement Jr., a former Purdue nuclear engineering professor and department head, has served as director of the National Science Foundation since President George W. Bush appointed him in 2004. He also served as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, from 2001 to 2004.

"Arden Bement is a leader in the national and global science community," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "He has a tremendous amount of experience in understanding, formulating and shaping policy on critical issues. Policy, whether it's related to economics, agriculture, poverty, climate change or energy sources, is built on research and science aimed at improving people's lives. A dedicated institute is another opportunity for Purdue to strengthen connections between science and society.

"Purdue is already engaged in many critical topics such as influenza preparedness, alternative energies, homeland security, global food production and cancer treatment. This institute will help to cultivate high-quality, non-partisan, evidence-based public information in similar areas, while offering advanced learning programs for students in public policy."

Launching the institute is one of the goals in Purdue's "New Synergies" strategic plan. All of the Big Ten universities and Purdue's aspirational peers have similar policy institutes. But Purdue's institute will have a distinctive edge with the university's strengths in science, information technology, data management and systems engineering, Córdova said.

Purdue's institute intends to offer faculty and student fellowships; nationally visible workshops, forums and publications; a certificate in public policy for students; participation in an interdisciplinary internship program in public policy; and a master of science in public policy and public administration. The new master of science degree would be subject to approval by the Purdue board of trustees and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Bement (pronounced beh-MENT) will start as director on June 1.

"During my time at NSF, I was able to follow the discovery and scholarship that has emerged from Purdue University," Bement said. "Purdue is home to two World Food Prize winners, and this is an example of just one area where the university's esteemed faculty is making a difference in the world. I am excited to be part of an initiative that will elevate and support research aimed at improving lives."

During Bement's six-year term as NSF director, he oversaw the foundation's annual budget of more than $7 billion that supports the research and education of roughly 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students across the United States. As part of the White House's American Competitiveness Initiative in 2006, he guided initiatives that supported the training of the U.S. work force to operate in a high-tech global economy.

"With the submission of his 2011 budget, President Obama has underscored again the critical role that the National Science Foundation plays in ensuring our nation's continuing preeminence in science and technology," said John P. Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology and director, Office of Science and Technology Policy. "I want to thank Dr. Bement for his nearly seven years of distinguished service at NSF's helm and his unwavering commitment to America's research and education enterprise."

The institute will be located at 1341 Northwestern Ave. in West Lafayette. The residence on the site was a gift from alumni R. Thomas and Anne Schowe, who reside in Santa Barbara, Calif. R. Thomas earned his bachelor's degree in industrial education in 1971, and Anne earned her bachelor's degree in computer science in 1972.

"I also want to thank Ambassador Carolyn Curiel, who was instrumental in the efforts to launch this institute," Córdova said. "Faculty representing various areas across campus came together under her guidance to outline the vision and possibilities for this institute. I am deeply grateful to these talented faculty for their wisdom and effort to shape a unique policy institute for Purdue."

Curiel, a clinical professor in the Department of Communication, led the task force in 2009.

From 1989 to 1995, Bement also served on the National Science Board, the 24-member policy body for NSF and adviser to the president and Congress on science and engineering issues. Córdova is currently a member of the National Science Board.

While serving as NSF acting director in 2003, Bement also continued as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

While at Purdue, he was the David A. Ross Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering and former head of Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering. He also held appointments in the School of Materials Engineering and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He joined the Purdue faculty in 1992 after a 39-year career in industry, government and academia.

Bement holds an engineer of metallurgy degree from the Colorado School of Mines, a master's degree in metallurgical material engineering from the University of Idaho and a doctorate in metallurgical material engineering from the University of Michigan. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering from Cleveland State University, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source:    France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu 

Purdue media contact: Chris Sigurdson, assistant vice president for external relations, 765-496-2644, sig@purdue.edu

NSF media contact: Jeff Nesbit, National Science Foundation director of the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, 703-292-8070, jnesbit@nsf.gov 

NSF news release:
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=116338