Bement was appointed to his six-year term as director of NSF by President George W. Bush in November 2004. He served as acting director for ten months prior to this. Under Bement, NSF has seen its budget move onto a doubling path, created a series of new science and engineering initiatives around innovation themes, increased its role in the international scientific policy arena, and increased its commitment to core basic research areas. NSF is widely recognized as a key driver of science and innovation advances in the U.S.

During Bement's tenure as NSF director, he oversaw the foundation's annual budget of more than $7 billion that supports the research and education of roughly 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators, and students across the United States. As part of the White House's American Competitiveness Initiative in 2006, he guided initiatives that supported the training of the U.S. work force to operate in a high-tech global economy.

From 1989 to 1995, Bement also served on the National Science Board, the 24-member policy body for NSF and adviser to the president and Congress on science and engineering issues. Bement is a former Purdue nuclear engineering professor and department head and retained tenure at Purdue during his stints in senior science policy posts in Washington, D.C. While at Purdue, Bement was the David A. Ross Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering and former head of Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering. He also held appointments in the School of Materials Engineering and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He joined the Purdue faculty in 1992 after a 39-year career in industry, government and academia.

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