NSF Hires First Research Security Chief

The National Science Foundation (NSF) said today it hired the agency’s first research security chief, Rebecca Spyke Keiser, who will oversee NSF’s strategy and policy for securing Federally funded research while remaining open to international collaboration.

As research security chief, Keiser will advise NSF Director France Córdova on all aspects of research security policy and lead efforts to improve research security coordination with other Federal agencies.

“The challenges we face today are different from those of the past. They’re more complex and require us to very quickly define them, communicate them to our partners and address them. I’m gratified to see NSF serving as a leader in this area and look forward to helping us move forward,” Keiser said of her new role.

Previously, Keiser spent five years leading NSF’s Office of International Science and Engineering. In her time leading that department, she built relationships with key stakeholders in the area and became “an advocate for an approach that relies on sharing information, strengthening ties and building trust with the research community.”

Córdova said NSF created the position in response to a December 2019 JASON (science advisory groups affiliated with MITRE Corp.) report that called attention to the threats posed by the science community’s “longstanding position of openness and transparency of research and its results.”

“NSF will continue to focus its efforts on both international collaboration and reinforcement of the tenets that support the success of the fundamental research enterprise,” Córdova said.

Research security of Federally funded projects has become an increasingly important topic to Federal officials over the last few months. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently urged the Federal government to take stronger measures to secure its research environment while balancing a level of openness that encourages innovation. The National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Joint Committee on Research Environments (JCORE) also established a subcommittee on research security to improve risk management and inform best practices.

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