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Berkowitz to join NSF in senior executive role

News for Researchers

May 29, 2020

David Berkowitz of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been named to a senior executive leadership role with the National Science Foundation’s Division of Chemistry. 

Berkowitz, Willa Cather Professor of chemistry, assumed the position of division director of NSF’s chemistry division May 24 under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. He will work for the federal government “on loan” from Nebraska, based at NSF headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Berkowitz said he “will help guide and manage the portfolio of the NSF chemistry division and oversee its talented scientific and technical staff.” This NSF division supports fundamental research in chemistry across the United States with an annual budget approaching $250 million.   

Since 1991, Berkowitz has been a faculty member in Nebraska’s Department of Chemistry, serving as department chair from 2013-2016. He became director of interdisciplinary therapeutics research in the Office of Research and Economic Development in 2017.  

During his appointment, Berkowitz will continue his research program at Nebraska under NSF’s Independent Research/Development program, which allows employees to remain actively involved with their professional research while at NSF. Berkowitz will continue his scientific oversight, along with Kenneth Bayles at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, of an $11 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to develop drug therapies to fight radiation exposure. He also continues to serve in a scientific advisory role for the Nebraska Drug Development Pipeline, a collaboration between UNL and UNMC that emerged out of the University of Nebraska Big Ideas Initiative. 

Berkowitz is an expert in the fields of synthetic organic chemistry and chemical biology. He previously spent time at NSF as a program officer, program lead, and finally, as the interim division director of chemistry. He has served NSF as a reviewer on panels and as a member of the Committee of Visitors for the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems, or CBET, Division in the Directorate for Engineering.  

Berkowitz was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 1997 and a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship in 2008. He is a member of the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

He has received numerous additional awards and honors and has served as a visiting professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology, and at the University of Rouen and Paris-V in France.  

He received his doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University in 1990. 


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