France Córdova is an astrophysicist and administrator who was the fourteenth director of the National Science Foundation. Córdova began her research career at Los Alamos National Laboratory where she rose to the position of deputy group leader in the Space Astronomy & Astrophysics Group. In 1989 she was appointed department head and professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University. While at Penn State, she was selected to serve as NASA’s chief scientist in 1993, becoming the first woman to hold that position, and received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1996. Córdova is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates from Loyola-Marymount University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
From 2007-2012, Córdova served as the first woman and the first minority president of Purdue University. Previously, Córdova was chancellor of the University of California Riverside and vice chancellor of research at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Córdova’s leadership has been recognized through her appointment to the Smithsonian Board of Regents, National Science Board, Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees, and Science Applications International Corporation Board of Directors. She has over one hundred publications to her name.