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.

Getting a Foot in the Door

MAKERS Moment

Getting a Foot in the Door

More From France

Watch in Cinema View

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. She is currently the President Emerita.
 
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

Louann Brizendine
Louann Brizendine
Neuropsychiatrist & Author

Louann Brizendine, M.D. is a practicing clinician, neuropsychiatrist and author, specializing in the relationship dynamics resulting from the neurobiology of male and female brains...

Marie Wilson
Marie Wilson
Women's Activist

Marie Wilson is a women's activist dedicated to establishing women in leadership and power positions to create positive change. She founded and served as President of The White...

Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard
United States Congresswoman, Hawaii

Tulsi Gabbard has served as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii’s second congressional district since 2013. She was born in American Samoa but moved to Hawaii at age 2. At 21...

Diem Brown
Diem Brown
Cancer Survivor and Entrepreneur

Diem Brown’s battle with ovarian cancer was caught on camera while she was a cast member on MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat. Through this experience, ...