National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement will leave the agency June 1st to lead a new Global Institute at Purdue University, the agency and Purdue announced today. For much of his six year stewardship of the agency, Bement dealt with relatively flat or declining budgets granted the agency by Congress. However, priority for science grew dramatically in the last few years of the Bush Administration as Bement and others were able to make the case that basic research like that supported by NSF was a fundamental driver of U.S. innovation — a priority that has continued in the first years of the Obama Administration. As a result, Bement will leave the agency on a trajectory that could see its budget double by 2017.
It’s not known at this point who will replace Bement, but we’ll keep our eyes and ears open for all the most compelling rumors and post them here.
Update: (Feb 4, 2010) — Here’s coverage from Science