The Moore Program Officer Now Advising Washington

Vicki Chandler is the chief program officer for science at one of the country’s largest research funders. Now she's become an even better person to know as one of the new appointees to the board that oversees the NSF, and advises the federal government. Here’s what you need to know about the esteemed biologist.

We’ve written a fair amount about Dr. Chandler, and you can read our full IP profile of her below. But the program officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was just named one of six new appointees to the 25-member National Science Board, which sets policy for the National Science Foundation and advises Congress and the president on science and engineering. Chandler will be the only representative from a private foundation on the board, which is mostly made up of representatives from industry and academia.  

Seeing that the NSF is a government body in charge of around $7 billion in annual science funding, it seemed worth reviewing Chandler’s career in light of this lofty new position of influence. 

For starters, Chandler is a highly respected plant molecular biologist. Her research is in genetics, specifically epigenetics of gene expression in plants and animals. Although she was first interested in marine biology when she took up scuba diving as a hobby, she became fascinated with life on a cellular level at UC Berkeley. During her PhD work at UC San Francisco, she researched biochemistry, specifically mouse mammary tumor virus.

She started postdoc work in plant genetics as an NSF fellow at Stanford, and went on to join the faculty at the University of Oregon, where she worked for 12 years, and began racking up recognition for her work. Before moving to Moore, Chandler was the founding director of the BIO5 Institute, a center at the University of Arizona devoted to improving health through interdisciplinary research projects. 

This is likely what caught the eye of the Moore Foundation, which scooped her up to lead its formidable science portfolio. The foundation backs a wide variety of underfunded or edgy fields, including Chandler’s specialty of plant science through a massive Howard Hughes Medical Institute partnership, data-driven discovery, marine microbiology, and the collaborative 30-Meter Telescope project. She's also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and president of the Genetics Society of America. 

The broad perspective and insights she's built up over her career no doubt contributed greatly to the National Science Board appointment, as well as her experience with Moore in making sure massive sums of money are put to smart use. In August, Chandler will be sworn in for a six-year term.

Read more below:

Vicki Chandler, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for Science Research