Purdue Science and Tech Scholar Fouché Heads NSF Social and Economic Sciences Division

Rayvon Fouché, the director of the American studies program at Purdue University and a science and technologies studies scholar whose high-profile work often looks at the connection of sport and technology, has taken the reins of the National Science Foundation’s Social and Economic Sciences Division. At the division, one of four within the NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, Fouché oversees more than a dozen research programs focused on society and the economy.

headshot of Rayvon Fouché

Fouché, who replaced Daniel Goroff in the permanent role on February 28, serves as division director through NSF’s rotator program, which recruits U.S. scientists, engineers and educators for limited-term leadership positions of up to four years. Goroff, who had been on loan from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation where he is a vice president and program director, served from 2019 to 2021.

The division supports both disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs along with large-scale scientific surveys such as the national Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Some of the disciplines the division routinely interacts with include decision, risk and management sciences; economics; law and social sciences; methodology, measurement and statistics; political science; science of organizations; science, technology and society; and sociology. More than 70 percent of the researchers who have won the Nobel Prize in economic sciences received support from the division.

Fouché earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in science and technology studies from Cornell University. His research focuses on the nature of invention and technological innovation in the U.S. He has written several books including Game Changer: The Technoscientific Revolution in Sports, which explores the impacts of technological and scientific advances on athletes and competitive sports, and Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation.

His current research continues to explore the nexus of sport, race and technology, including such projects as Afrofutureneering and the intimacies of sporting authenticity; the material culture of sporting authenticity; and sneakers and the commodification of Black History Month.

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