The National Science Foundation keeps American colleges and universities on the cutting edge of technology, funding 20 percent of all research done by U.S. institutions of higher learning — to the tune of $6.5 billion. Over the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won more than 180 Nobel Prizes, and Cora Marrett, the organization’s second-in-command, plays no small part in steering the foundation into an equally innovative, increasingly more diverse future.
Cora Marrett is making history … as a powerful advocate for higher levels of quality and equality in American education. Deeply involved in one of the most significant funding organizations in the country, Marrett has long had an insider’s post from which to observe — and counteract — the ways that institutions make progress more difficult for people of color.
One way that Marrett has pushed for greater diversity in the United State’s higher education system was through the development of the Ford Foundation Post Doctoral Fellowship, a program designed to overcome the deeply institutionalized challenges that hinder educators of color in their paths to tenured academic careers. The fellowship establishes a system of mentors to circumvent these hindrances in order to change the color of higher education.
What’s next for Cora?
The NSF deputy director will continue identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering, while making sure potential recipients of the funding are all given equal access and process.
In her own words …
“The National Science Foundation is proud to participate in the fostering of discoveries and innovations of which the public dreams,” Marrett said in a 2009 speech to the National Science Board.
A little-known fact …
The U.S. currently ranks 17th for science and 25th for mathematics in global education rankings. This puts American students, on average, one year behind Canadian students.