News Releases

Eva Pell Named Smithsonian Under Secretary for Science

August 13, 2009

Eva J. Pell, Senior Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at Pennsylvania State University, has been named Under Secretary for Science at the Smithsonian Institution. Pell has been Vice President and Dean since 2000 and was promoted to Senior Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at the university in 2006. She will begin at the Smithsonian Jan. 4, 2010, and report directly to Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough.

As Under Secretary for Science, Pell will directly oversee the operations of the National Museum of Natural History; the National Air and Space Museum; the National Zoo and its Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va.; the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.; the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md.; the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute in Suitland, Md.; and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

Pell, 61, brings an environmental science background to this position and a strong track record of leadership. She was a professor in the department of plant pathology at Penn State for more than 35 years. In her role as Senior Vice President for Research at the university, Pell spearheads the development of cross-disciplinary institutes for life sciences, materials, energy and environment, social sciences, cyber science, and arts and humanities; all six institutes report directly to her. She is also responsible for sponsored research, compliance and the university’s animal research center. In addition, Pell is responsible for the Penn State Research and Technology Transfer Organization, which connects Penn State researchers with industries in order to stimulate economic development.  

As Dean of the Graduate School, she oversees graduate admissions, fellowships, awards and curriculum. Pell has developed several programs at Penn State to increase the number of minority applicants for graduate programs.

Pell holds a bachelor’s degree in science from the City College of New York and a doctorate degree in plant biology from Rutgers University. Her research focuses on the effects of air pollution on plants.

Pell has served on panels and advisory boards for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce. She currently serves on the National Science Foundation’s Biological Sciences Advisory Committee. In addition, Pell is active in economic development and serves on a number of Pennsylvania state boards, including the Ben Franklin Center of Central and Northern Pennsylvania and the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania. She is also the president of the Penn State Research Foundation and the Research Park Management Corporation.

“We are proud to welcome Dr. Pell to the Smithsonian as our new Under Secretary for Science,” said Secretary Clough. “She is an accomplished scientist, experienced leader and inspired educator who will help us raise the global profile of Smithsonian science. We will benefit greatly from her many talents.”

“Anyone who comes to Washington, D.C., finds him or herself touched by Smithsonian activities, as the Institution is at the nexus between discovery and education,” said Pell. “I am excited and humbled by the opportunity presented to me by Secretary Clough and am looking forward to the possibilities to expand the reach and dimensions of Smithsonian science.” 

Pell succeeds David L. Evans who left the position in April 2007. For the past two years, the position of acting Under Secretary for Science has been held by Ira Rubinoff, former director and current senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and currently by Charles Alcock, director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

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SI-362-2009

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John Gibbons
(202) 633-5187

Linda St. Thomas
(202) 633-5188



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