Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Myron Gutmann named to lead National Science Foundation directorate

U-M historian Myron Gutmann has been selected to head the National Science Foundation’s Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate, the NSF announced today.

Gutmann, who specializes in historical demography and population-environment relationships, directs the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the Institute for Social Research. He is to begin his job at NSF on Nov. 2.

“This is a critical moment for social, behavioral and economic research in the United States,” says Gutmann, who also is a research professor at the ISR Population Studies Center and a professor at LSA and the School of Information.

“NSF is uniquely placed to support work that crosses into every other part of science, including the biological, physical and geo sciences. I see my role as enhancing the conduct of world-class SBE science, facilitating new inter-disciplinary and international collaboration, and building the technological infrastructure needed to understand our society in the 21st century.””

“The work NSF does to build knowledge of human systems and how we interact with society will be rewarded by the presence of such a fine scholar and leader as Dr. Gutmann,” says NSF Director Arden L. Bement Jr.

With an annual budget of $5.92 billion, NSF funds research at more than 1,700 universities and institutions across the U.S. Each year, the foundation receives about 42,000 competitive requests for funding and makes more than 10,000 new funding awards.

U-M received $64.8 million in NSF funding in fiscal year 2008.

“Dr. Gutmann is taking on an important role in furthering the study of human society,” says Provost Teresa Sullivan. “His scholarly credentials and leadership experience make him especially well-suited for this position. I’ve known Professor Gutmann for more than 20 years and have great respect for his judgment. The University of Michigan has long been a leader in social science research and is proud to have a member of its faculty serving the field in this way.”

 “We will sorely miss Myron’s leadership and vision,” says ISR Director James Jackson. “But we are delighted that we will have such a strong advocate for social, behavioral, and economic research at the NSF.”

Gutmann has a broad range of interests in interdisciplinary historical population studies. His current research focuses on the relationship between population and the environment in the Great Plains, and on the history of the U.S. Hispanic population. He also studies ways that digital materials can be properly preserved and shared, and how the confidentiality of research subjects can be protected.

Gutmann joined U-M in 2001 to direct ICPSR, the world’s largest digital archive of social science and survey research data. Before that, he was director of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his doctorate in 1976 from Princeton University.