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National Science Foundation selects Hackett for post

August 14, 2006

ASU's Edward J. Hackett will be in a position to influence the direction of social sciences on a national scale as the newly appointed director of the Division of Social and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). His term began in mid-July.

Hackett, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, previously served as an NSF program officer, panelist and principal investigator of several research and training grants.

In his role as director of the Division of Social and Economic Sciences, Hackett will oversee the NSF unit that supports research in a range of social sciences, including economics, political science, sociology, law and social science, decision sciences, innovation and organizational change, methods and statistics, and studies of science and technology. This constitutes an annual budget of about $100 million of research funds.

“The social and economic sciences make essential contributions to fundamental knowledge about society, human behavior and our collective well-being,” Hackett says. “And, for many of these fields, the National Science Foundation is the primary source of support for basic research.”

Hackett, an ASU professor since 1998, has been involved in a range of interdisciplinary research and educational activities, including the Central Arizona/Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program, the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training Program in Urban Ecology, the Biology and Society Program, the Barrett Honors College, and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes.

“He has built strong interdisciplinary connections through research and teaching that link social sciences to environmental sciences, particularly ecology, geology, physical geography and environmental engineering at ASU,” says David W. Lightfoot, assistant director of NSF for social, behavioral and economic sciences.

Hackett's research and publications have been concerned with the social organization of science, research collaboration, peer review, academic organizations and careers, and environmental justice and stewardship.

While serving as director for the division of social and economic sciences at the NSF, Hackett will remain involved with ASU and ongoing research projects. He is part of a research team that is conducting the Phoenix Area Social Survey, directed by Sharon L. Harlan, an associate professor in ASU's School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Hackett is in collaboration with Diana Rhoten of the Social Science Research Council in New York and also is conducting a national study of interdisciplinary graduate education, supported by a grant from NSF.

The New Britain, Conn., native received a doctorate and master's degree in sociology from Cornell University, in addition to a bachelor's degree in social relations from Colgate University. Before joining ASU's faculty, Hackett was a professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and held other appointments at NSF and the Rockefeller University.

Among his many published works, Hackett is an editor of “The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies,” scheduled for publication by MIT Press in 2007.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research, education and infrastructure in the sciences and engineering. Hackett replaces outgoing division director Richard O. Lempert, the Eric Stein Distinguished University Professor of Law and Sociology at the University of Michigan.