JoAnn Slama Lighty, division director for Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET), National Science Foundation, shares her thoughts about being a public servant.
Tell us something about your job that most people don’t know or realize.
The National Science Foundation does not do its own research. most of its funding goes to colleges and universities and in turn these grants fund graduate students, and those graduate students are really the next generation of our workforce.
How does your job connect the government with citizens in a more efficient or effective way?
My job connects the government with citizens in a more effective way through funding. This funding goes to graduate students who are the next generation of scientists and engineers, and they’ll discover and innovate to promote the progress of science and engineering, and advance national health, prosperity and welfare, which is NSF’s mission.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever done in job with the government?
The best thing I’ve ever done in my job with the government is being co-chair of a working group which is looking at innovations at the nexus of food, energy and water.
This initiative is looking at the fact that the population is going to increase and we’re going to need more food, energy and water. However, food needs water and energy, energy needs water, so these three systems are really interconnected.
NSF is looking at understanding these interconnections and how modeling, cyber infrastructure and solution and technologies will help us deal with these increasing demands upon these resources. As such, I’ve really helped to give opportunities to researchers who’s results will be extremely important to this global issue.
What’s the best piece of job related advice you ever got?
The best piece of job advice I’ve ever been given is that when making decisions, to be fair and don’t forget your moral compass.