NSF News

NSF selects Susan Marqusee to head the Biological Sciences Directorate

The U.S. National Science Foundation has selected Susan Marqusee to head the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

Marqusee is a Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator. From 2010 to 2020, she served as the director for the California Institute of Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3, at UC Berkeley.  

“Susan Marqusee’s vast experience will be a monumental benefit to NSF and our effort to tackle some of the most complex societal challenges,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “Under her leadership, the BIO directorate is strongly positioned to expand the frontiers of knowledge and fuel discoveries, technologies, and innovations that change lives around the world. I am grateful for her public service and commitment to promoting the progress of science.” 

Marqusee has earned numerous awards and honors, including the Margaret Dayhoff Award from the Biophysical Society, the William Rose Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award from The Protein Society. She is a fellow of both the Biophysical Society and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2013) and the National Academy of Sciences (2016).

As a biophysical chemist, her research focuses on deciphering the structural and dynamic information encoded in a protein’s amino acid sequence with the goal of understanding and predicting how changes in the sequence and environment affect a protein's energy landscape and function. The fundamental nature of her work has had significant impact on many other areas of research, ranging from the physical chemistry of macromolecules to the design of therapeutics that prevent the aggregation of proteins, a phenomenon that can lead to neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

"I am excited for the opportunity to lead the BIO directorate and be a part of the NSF legacy that has promoted the progress of science for over 70 years," said Marqusee. "Many of the world's current challenges have solutions routed in biology, making this a particularly exciting time for biology and cross-disciplinary discovery. I look forward to partnering across the agency to enable participation, discovery and translation in the biological sciences. I am also grateful to the University of California for allowing me to take this time to serve our country."

NSF's BIO directorate supports fundamental research on life in all its forms that can be translated readily into solutions that solve societal problems such as climate change, advance the bioeconomy and provide new tools to conduct biological research. This basic research expands the fundamental understanding of living systems from the molecular to the ecosystem scale.

Marqusee received a bachelor's in physics and chemistry from Cornell University; and a doctorate in biochemistry and a medical degree from Stanford University.

Marqusee will begin her appointment June 20, 2023.