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Colwell Confirmed as NSF Director

Microbiologist Rita Colwell has been confirmed as the 12th director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). But she won't start work immediately: Neal Lane, the current director, is still waiting for the Senate to consider his nomination to be director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Colwell, president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, was nominated to the post last February by President Clinton. A former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, which publishes ScienceNOW), Colwell breezed through the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee without a hearing, and last Friday the full Senate voted yes before taking off on a week-long Memorial Day holiday break. But a different panel--the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee--is responsible for taking up Lane's nomination. The panel will begin consideration at a 2 June hearing and could vote on Lane's nomination as early as the next day.

Colwell won't officially take office until she is sworn in, however. NSF officials are anticipating a joint ceremony as soon as Lane, who will also serve as the president's science advisor, gets the nod for his new post.