Laurie E. Locascio was sworn in Tuesday as the fourth Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and the 17th director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. As one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories, NIST conducts research and standards development activities that support innovation in a wide array of disciplines, including cybersecurity, manufacturing, health care, greenhouse gas measurement, and quantum physics and computing. Locascio was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 7, 2022.
“We are so fortunate to have Laurie Locascio assume the leadership of NIST,” said Secretary Raimondo. “She is an accomplished scientist, leader and mentor. I know she will help the Department of Commerce meet its goals by ensuring the cutting-edge science and public-private partnerships that are so vital to U.S. innovation and economic security.”
“I am excited to return to NIST — an agency with such an impactful mission filled with brilliant, dedicated public servants,” said Locascio. “It is an honor to be nominated by President Biden to serve in this role, and I look forward to supporting Secretary Raimondo in promoting and strengthening U.S. competitiveness at this critical time for our nation.”
Locascio most recently served as vice president for research at the University of Maryland College Park and University of Maryland Baltimore, where she focused on the development of large interdisciplinary research programs, technology commercialization, innovation and economic development efforts, and strategic partnerships with industry, federal, academic and nonprofit collaborators. She also served as a professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the A. James Clark School of Engineering with a secondary appointment in the Department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine.
Before joining the University of Maryland, Locascio worked at NIST for 31 years, rising from a research biomedical engineer to eventually leading the agency’s Material Measurement Laboratory. She also served as the acting associate director for laboratory programs, the No. 2 position at NIST, providing direction and operational guidance for NIST’s lab research programs.
As director, Locascio will guide NIST’s collaborative efforts with industry, academia and other government agencies to develop and apply the technology, measurements and standards needed for innovative products and services. She will also oversee NIST’s work on two ongoing National Construction Safety Team investigations, into the June 2021 partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida, and the impacts of 2017’s Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico.
Locascio’s most recent honors and awards include the 2021 induction as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the 2017 American Chemical Society Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management, and the 2017 Washington Academy of Sciences Special Award in Scientific Leadership. She has published 115 scientific papers and has received 12 patents in the fields of bioengineering and analytical chemistry. Her honors and awards also include the Department of Commerce Silver and Bronze Medal Awards, the American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry Arthur F. Findeis Award, the NIST Safety Award and the NIST Applied Research Award. She is also a fellow of the American Chemical Society and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
Locascio has a B.S. in chemistry from James Madison University, an M.S. in bioengineering from the University of Utah, and a Ph.D. in toxicology from the University of Maryland Baltimore.
NIST was established in 1901 and since then has carried out its mission to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by making essential contributions to industry, science, public safety and national security.