UPDATED 04/19/11 9:33 p.m.

CHICAGO (STMW/WBBM) — President Obama has a tapped a Chicago area educator to a key national science post. WBBM’s Steve Grzanich reports.

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The NSF provides funding for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported research conducted in US colleges and universities. it’s also the major source of funding mathematics, computer science and the social sciences fields.

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Along with the NSF director, the board recommends national policies for the promotion of research and education in science and engineering, according to a release from the University of Chicago. The board oversees NSF’s operational and programmatic aspects, including its $7 billion budget. It also serves as an apolitical, independent body of advisors to the president and Congress on policy matters related to science and engineering.

“The pursuit of scientific discovery and innovation is essential for our nation’s future, and the National Science Foundation plays a crucial role in forming a vision to carry American research forward,” Zimmer, who chairs the governing boards of both Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, said. “Having the opportunity to contribute to this valuable work is an honor for me, and moreover it reflects the University of Chicago’s position as a global leader in research.”

The board is made up of 25 members nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, the release said. Drawn primarily from higher education, members serve six-year terms with one-third of the board nominated every two years.

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