Arden L. Bement Jr., the former director of the National Science Foundation and director of Purdue University’s Global Policy Research Institute, has been recognized by the country of France as an officer of the French Legion of Honor.
Bement, who also is the David A. Ross Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering, received the "Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur" on Thursday (March 24) at the residence of the Ambassador of France in Washington, D.C. The Legion of Honor, created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, is France’s most prestigious distinction and recognizes military, cultural, scientific, or social contributions to France.
"I am humbled by this recognition, and this reminds me of all the wonderful colleagues, scientists and students I have had the opportunity to work with over the years," Bement said. "I am fortunate that I have been able to share my passion for science with students in the classroom, as well as government officials and leading scientists around the world."
Bement was appointed director of the National Science Foundation in 2004 by President George W. Bush.
During Bement’s six-year term 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. workforce to operate in a high-tech global economy.
He returned to Purdue on June 1, 2010 to lead the new Global Policy Research Institute, which is part of Purdue’s "New Synergies" strategic plan. The institute focuses on the university’s strengths in science, information technology, data management and systems engineering in collaboration with economics and the social sciences to inform policymakers about critical issues such as poverty and climate change.
Before joining the National Science Foundation, Bement also served as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, from 2001-2004. While serving as NSF acting director in 2003, Bement also continued as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
While at Purdue, he was head of Purdue’s School of Nuclear Engineering and 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. From 1989-1995, 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 holds an engineer of metallurgy degree from the Colorado School of Mines, a master’s degree in metallurgical material engineering from the University of Idaho and a doctorate in metallurgical material engineering from the University of Michigan. He also holds honorary degrees from Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Idaho, and the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and holds an honorary professorship in the graduate school of the Chinese Academy of Science.