Do you have any advice for students in middle and high school and/or for their parents?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Discoveries are built on a lot of trials that don’t work. Learn from your mistakes. Experience is the sum of successes and failures.
What is one fact about you personally or professionally that your colleagues on the Board would be surprised to learn?
I am a beginning fiddle student, and, at the moment, most of my peers are all shorter than me.
If you could do it all over again, would you? Why or why not?
Without a question. The moment of discovery, of having solved a difficult puzzle. And Planet Earth presents a most challenging and engaging puzzle.
What prompted your initial interest in STEM?
The beauty and elegance of mathematics.
We often talk about careers resembling pathways rather than a linear pipeline. Can you share a couple of seminal moments in your life that shaped or redirected your career path?
I spent my postdoc commuting on the (very slow) train between work at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD and home in Manhattan. My thesis advisor came to Goddard and told me to return to Manhattan (“your work is only part of your life”) and learn something new, so that he and I could work together to understand the global carbon cycle. And so I expanded my research from mathematics and geophysical fluid dynamics to embrace chemistry and biogeochemistry.
What do you want people to know about the National Science Foundation?
The NSF supports research that sparks the engine of our civilization.
What would you like people to know about the National Science Board?
The NSB works to maintain the US as the world leader in scientific research and innovation, and to make sure that taxpayer dollars are invested optimally. We work to provide a stable environment for investigators, to incubate innovative ideas, to stimulate research in emergent areas, and to educate the next-generation of innovators and workforce.
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