Cliff Weil joined MCB in July 2021 as a program director in the Genetic Mechanisms cluster.
What is your educational background?
I have a B.S. in Genetics from the University of California, Davis and a Ph.D. in Genetics and Development from Cornell University.
What were you doing before you came to NSF?
Before joining MCB in July 2021, I was a professor at Purdue University focused on genetics, molecular biology, and genomics of plants, particularly maize and sorghum. I have a special fondness for transposable elements, which were first described in maize, and their interactions with the DNA repair machinery. I’ve also worked on microtubules and as a part of groups trying to interface engineering with biology. From 2017-2020, I was a program director in the NSF Plant Genome Research Program in the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS).
What attracted you to work for NSF?
I’m really excited about being able to facilitate getting the best science supported and about helping develop new directions for Molecular and Cellular Biology.. It is a great group of colleagues in MCB, and I really like the dedication to the work that everyone shares and the free flow of ideas. These are crazy times with the pandemic, but NSF has barely skipped a beat and there remains incredible opportunity to develop new ideas and to broaden the community of scientists. I’m thrilled to be a part of that.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about serving as a Program Director (*or applying to a position) at NSF?
Definitely do it! It’s a lot of work but totally worth it, interesting (sometimes in unexpected directions), and a lot of fun. You will learn a TON. I really like living in the DC area, so if you can do that, you should, but the remote working has been amazingly seamless.
When friends or colleagues find out that you work at NSF, what do they say or ask?
“Can you get me some money!?” I always tell them to send me a one-pager… I think my kids were least impressed with that answer.