Lynn Preston is the Deputy Director of the Division of Engineering Education and Centers of the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Leader of the Engineering Research Centers (ERC) Program, a major NSF program established in 1984. ERCs have been instrumental in changing the culture of engineering education and research by developing cross-disciplinary teams of faculty and student who work in collaboration with industry to advance next-generation technology and education. Over 50 ERCs have strongly impacted the competitive positions of their member firms, generated advanced technology with 10s of billions of dollars of economic impact, and contributed over 10,000 graduates who are proven industrial and academic leaders. In 2008, Ms. Preston restructured this successful program to make an even larger impact on innovation, supporting new Third-Generation (Gen-3) ERCs charged with additional goals for pursuing translational research partnerships with small firms and education programs that stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation.
Ms. Preston joined the National Science Foundation staff in 1972, leading programs and offices that supported interdisciplinary research to advance technology. In the early 1980's, she developed the first program in NSF to join biologists and biochemical engineers on the emerging field of bioengineering and has been instrumental in structuring the Foundation's efforts in bioengineering research and education since that time.
Ms. Preston has received numerous awards from the National Science Foundation for her leadership in interdisciplinary research and the ERC Program. For her leadership of the ERC Program and its role as a model program for industry/university collaboration in NSF and around the world, in 2000 she was honored by the President of the United States with a Meritorious Executive Service Award and by the Foundation with its prestigious Distinguished Service Award. In 2003, she was honored by the National Society of Professional Engineers as the NSF Federal Engineer of the Year for her contributions to engineering research and education. In 2006, she was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering for her leadership in developing and sustaining NSF support for the field of bioengineering and the contributions ERCs have made to this field. In 2009, she and the Gen-3 ERC team received the NSF Director's Award for Collaborative Integration.
Ms. Preston's university education focused in biology, chemistry, and economics. She earned her BA and MA degrees in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to joining the NSF, she worked on macro-economic modeling and the development of the volunteer force for the Institute for Defense Analyses, and as a member of a joint US-Thai economic development team in Thailand.