Steven Leath

Auburn University President Steven Leath

Auburn University President Steven Leath said he is "thrilled" to be one of President Donald Trump's recent appointees to the National Science Board.

"So many of the world's big problems now are going to rely on complex scientific solutions," Leath told the Opelika-Auburn News on Friday. "To be recognized as someone who can contribute to the cause is a great responsibility, and fairly humbling."

Leath is one of five new members Trump announced last week that he is appointing to the 25-member board. The National Science Board is the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation.

"It's a great responsibility, providing science policy advice to Congress and the White House, and overseeing the National Science Foundation," Leath said. "The good thing about this for Auburn is, it shows that Auburn in general, and Auburn leadership, is a player in science, a leader of science, and it helps raise our profile and will recognize great achievements of our faculty."

Along with Leath, the other new appointees to the board are Maureen Condic, associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah; Suresh Garimella, a professor of mechanical engineering and executive vice president for research and partnerships at Purdue University; Alan Stern, planetary scientist and an associate vice president and special assistant to the president at the Southwest Research Institute; and Stephen Willard, CEO of biotechnology company Cellphire.

Leath is trained in plant pathology and has placed emphasis on growing Auburn's research efforts since he came to the Plains last year.

"We are excited to welcome this diverse group of scientists, administrators, and inventors to the National Science Board," board chairwoman Diane Souvaine stated in a news release from the National Science Foundation. "We're grateful to the administration - in particular the Office of Science and Technology Policy - for working hard to assemble this fantastic group of individuals.

"Their collective expertise and wealth of experiences, insights, and dedication to public service will be a boon to NSF and to the nation's science and engineering enterprise."

Members of the National Science Board are appointed by the president of the United States for six-year terms.

"The administration asked if I wanted to serve in a capacity, and we talked about a number of scientific capacities where I could add value," Leath said. "And I'm a pretty patriotic guy, so I said I'd be happy to help the country."

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