Smithsonian leader picked to head science agency

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairwoman of the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents plans to step down from the museum and research complex because President Barack Obama is nominating her to lead the National Science Foundation.

The White House on Wednesday announced Obama’s nomination plans for France Cordova. The Smithsonian receives research funding from the foundation, so Cordova would likely step down to avoid a conflict of interest. The nomination must be approved by the Senate.

Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas says another member of the board’s executive committee would likely become the next board chair.

Cordova is an astrophysicist and former president of Purdue University where she served for five years. In the 1990s, she was NASA’s chief scientist. Cordova also spent 20 years in the University of California system.

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