Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Getting a Foot in the Door

Getting a Foot in the Door

More From France

In this video

Córdova describes how she got her start in the journalism business after college.

France's Biography

Charity of Choice: Smithsonian
Biggest Influence Never Met: Einstein
Three Words to Describe Herself: Energetic, analytical, and inquisitive 
Proudest Accomplishment: “That I've lived a life of integrity, that I've been true to myself, and as fair and honest to others as I am able to be.”

France A. Córdova, an internationally recognized astrophysicist, once said, “I didn’t have a strategic plan for my life. I have an appetite for discovery. I’m an explorer and I follow my best instincts.” Indeed, those instincts propelled Córdova to become the youngest person and first female chief scientist at NASA.
Córdova's prolific scientific contributions include more than 200 journal articles and reports, as well as numerous critical space-borne instrumentation experiments. Her equally formidable career in academia includes five years as head of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University, eight years as a professor of physics and vice chancellor for research at UC Santa Barbara, as well as her position as chancellor and distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Riverside. She joined Purdue as the university's first woman president and a Professor of Physics and Astronomy in 2007, serving through July 2012. 
In March 2014, Córdova joined the Obama administration when she was named director of the National Science Foundation for a 6 year term.
Córdova graduated cum laude from Stanford University, and went on to earn her PhD in physics from the California Institute of Technology. Throughout her career, Córdova has received numerous awards and honors including NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, and was recognized as a 2000 Kilby Laureate, for "contributions to society through science, technology, innovation, invention, and education." In addition to serving on a myriad of boards, she is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Women in Science, and has received presidential appointments, including one by George W. Bush to the National Science Board in 2008, and another in 2009 by Barack Obama to the Smithsonian's Board of Regents, to which she was subsequently elected as chair.

Related Videos

Diahann Carroll
Diahann Carroll
Actress

Diahann Carroll is an award-winning actress who broke barriers in American television as the first African American women to not only star in a series, "Julia", but also ...

Pamela Rief
Pamela Rief
Biomechanics Educator

Pamela Rief is a biomechanics education specialist, trainer, and the Co-Founder of the Strengthen Up Project. The project's mission is to educate people on biomechanics habits ...

Julie Chu
Julie Chu
Olympic Hockey Player

Julie Chu is an Olympic hockey player who plays forward on the U.S. women's ice hockey team. She has played in three Olympic cycles helping Team USA win two silver medals and a...

Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Our Bodies, Ourselves

The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (now known as Our Bodies Ourselves) is the non-profit responsible for Our Bodies, Ourselves, the revolutionary women's health an...