NU prof named to science foundation post

Fay Lomax Cook

Northwestern University Professor Fay Lomax Cook has been named assistant director of the National Science Foundation and head of NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

SBE funds more than half of all the nation’s university-based research in the social, behavioral and economic sciences. Cook’s appointment begins in September.

Cook, professor in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy and faculty fellow in the University’s Institute for Policy Research, is a social policy expert who served from 1996 to 2012 as director of the institute.

In her new role, Cook will be a key member of the National Science Foundation’s senior management and policy team. She will direct an SBE staff of 119 and manage a budget of approximately $250 million.

“Dr. Cook will lead a directorate that enriches all parts of our society, including government, academia, education, and business and industry,” said NSF Acting Director Cora B. Marrett. “Her deep experience and expertise in these areas will be of great value to NSF and to the research community.”

Cook’s research explores the interrelationship between public opinion and social policy, the politics of public policy, public deliberation, energy policy and the dynamics of support for programs for older Americans, particularly Social Security. She is author of numerous articles and author or co-author of five books, including “Talking Together: Public Deliberation and Political Participation.” 

A past president and current fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, Cook has served as a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, a fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a scientific consultant to the National Institute on Aging and a member of the North American Program Committee for the International Congress on Gerontology. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance.