November 25, 2012

Obama Taps Dean of Cornell Arts College for National Science Board

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Peter Lepage, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was appointed to the National Science Board on Nov. 16 by President Barack Obama.

The National Science Board acts as the governing body for the National Science Foundation, which aids in directing and supporting federally-funded American research in science and engineering fields. Members of the board act as advisors to the President and Congress on policy matters involving science and engineering, according to the National Science Board’s website.

Lepage said he was “honored” to be asked to join the Board. He said he hopes he will be able to aid the National Science Foundation’s mission of supporting science and engineering research.

“I am eager to do what I can on the [National Science Board] to help the NSF continue and improve in its ability to fulfill this mission,” Lepage said in an email Sunday.

Lepage said he is particularly excited that, through the appointment, he will be able to work with leaders in scientific and engineering fields.

“What will make the appointment fun is close contact with the great science and engineering that is being done through NSF support — work that spans a very broad range of topics,” he said. “I expect to learn a lot.”

Lepage, who began teaching physics at Cornell in 1980, was appointed chair of the Department of Physics in 1999. Lepage chaired the department until he was appointed dean of the arts college in 2003, according to a University press release.

During his tenure as dean, Lepage has been notable for continuing his research in quantum physics, professors said.

Lepage’s ability to maintain his research in addition to his administrative responsibilities is a “great” trait that will serve him well on the National Science Board, according to Prof. Csaba Csaki, physics.

Csaki also praised Lepage’s ideas regarding the future of science education.

“He has great vision about how science and education should go on in the future,” Csaki said.

Prof. Robert Richardson, physics, who previously served the National Science Board, said Lepage will be “an outstanding member” of the board.

“He has profound understanding of the issues facing the nation,” Richardson said.

Prof. John Hopcroft, engineering and applied mathematics, who has also served on the National Science Board, said Lepage was an “excellent” choice for the board because of his straightforward personality.

“There’s no politics involved with him,” Hopcroft said.

Hopcroft added that Lepage’s appointment “really reflects on Dean Lepage’s international standing in the science community.”

In the press release that announced Lepage’s –– and six others’ –– appointments to the National Science Board, Obama said the appointees will be valuable additions to the board.

“I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to join this administration and serve our country,” Obama said. “I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

Original Author: Caroline Flax