Susan Marqusee, a biophysical chemist and campus professor of molecular cell biology and chemistry, will lead the Directorate for Biological Sciences, or BIO, of the National Science Foundation, or NSF.
According to Karen Marrongelle, chief operating officer of the NSF, Marqusee is expected to begin this position June 20. The BIO directorate provides support for fundamental research on various forms of life, creating practical solutions that address societal challenges like climate change, promoting the bioeconomy and facilitating innovative tools for biological investigations, Marrongelle added.
Marqusee currently leads laboratory research on campus focusing on protein dynamics and served as director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences at UC Berkeley, or QB3-Berkeley, from 2010 to 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, she was also responsible for supervising campus research and recovery initiatives, she noted.
“I am very excited and honored to be part of NSF leadership overseeing BIO,” Marqusee said in an email. “My experience at Berkeley has shown me that, in addition to my own research and teaching, I thrive in enabling and fostering the research enterprise and the research of others.”
She said her position at the NSF will be “particularly exciting” due to its impact and the wide range of research it fosters. Marqusee added that the current era of biology is a powerful one because scientific advancements and discoveries hold the potential to address diverse national and societal challenges.
Marrongelle further recognized Marqusee as a forger of university-industry partnerships through her time as the director of QB3-Berkeley and as a “distinguished scholar” with an outstanding research and teaching background.
“As a scholar who understands the importance of both basic and translational research, her background is superbly suited to lead the NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences at a time when fundamental research must be strengthened and the opportunities for translational research abound,” Marrongelle said in an email.
Throughout this period, Marqusee will be serving the federal government under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, effectively being “on loan” to them, she noted. Consequently, she will maintain her status as a faculty member at UC Berkeley while dividing her time between the Bay Area and Virginia.
Although she will not be engaged in formal teaching, she added that she will continue to actively oversee her laboratory research program and provide mentorship to trainees in the lab, anticipating that this experience will provide valuable insights in research and teaching to bring back to the Berkeley community.
Marqusee looks forward to working toward common goals with the rest of the leadership team across the multitude of directorates of the NSF, as well as enabling rapid translation of cross-disciplinary discoveries for the betterment of society.
“Current research and technological developments in modern biology interweave with all areas of science,” Marqusee said in the email. “Therefore, it’s a particularly exciting time for cross-disciplinary discovery.”