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COLLEGE STATION --

William B. Smith, professor of statistics at Texas A&M University, has accepted a two-year appointment to a key staff position at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Smith's duties will include coordinating the review process of funding requests for statistics research. He also will co-direct the Vertically Integrated Grants for Research and Education (VIGRE) program, which provides funds to institutions to increase the number of students pursuing research careers in mathematics.

Smith said his appointment will give him first-hand experience with the funding process.

"I'll have a more thorough understanding of the funding process," he said. "Hopefully I'll have enough experience to help others at the university seek funding from the NSF and other organizations."

Smith explained that receiving funding from the NSF is very competitive. The foundation receives more than 200 requests for research funding in statistics annually, of which 25 percent are granted. Smith will coordinate the activities of experts who will review the requests and make recommendations.

As co-director of the VIGRE program, Smith will coordinate the review of funding requests from institutions that aim to increase enrollment in mathematics. According to NSF figures, enrollment in mathematics graduate programs in the United States has dropped by 25 percent per year for the past three years.

Smith said programs like the VIGRE program are essential if the United States is to remain competitive in the sciences.

"Most everything we do is mathematical," he said. "We need fundamental training in mathematical sciences to solve problems in engineering, education, and in the physical, biological and social sciences."

Although he will be in Washington, D.C., during his appointment at the NSF, Smith will remain active at Texas A&M University. He continues to guide the research of graduate students and will continue as editor-in-chief of the journals Communications in

Statistics Theory and Methods and Communications in Statistics Simulation and Computation.

Smith served as an executive associate dean in the College of Science at Texas A&M University from 1994 to 1997 and head of the Department of Statistics from 1977 to 1986. He has also served as both an assistant and associate dean in the College of Science.

He received his doctorate and master's degree in statistics from Texas A&M and his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Lamar University.

The NSF is an independent U.S. government agency whose mission is "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense."

The organization invests more than $3.3 billion per year in almost 20,000 research and education projects in science and engineering.

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