I am deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of Dr. Mary Clutter.
Dr. Clutter served as the Assistant Director (AD) for the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) from 1992 to 2005, during which time she served two stints as acting Deputy Director for NSF. Prior to that, she served as Division Director for Cellular Biosciences in what was previously the Directorate for Biology, Behavioral, and Social Sciences (BBS), as Science Advisor in the Office of the Director from 1985 to 1987, and as a Program Director starting in the 1970s. She passed away on Sunday, December 8, 2019.
Dr. Clutter was a native of Pennsylvania and attended Allegheny College, where she obtained an undergraduate degree in biology. She later earned her masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. She joined NSF as a rotator from Yale University and subsequently was appointed permanently.
Dr. Clutter was always about science first. Her prescient view of 21st Century Biology predicted it to be integrative from the molecule to the environment, interdisciplinary across all disciplines, driven by a revolution in genomics and computational biology. She championed plant biology and genomics, advocated for the creation of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), and fostered innovative funding mechanisms within BIO (e.g., Research Coordination Networks and Graduate Research Traineeships) that were subsequently embraced agency-wide. Furthermore, her commitment to advancing women in academe, in science, and at the NSF was a major hallmark of her time as AD for BIO. Most notable was her policy memo that prohibited BIO funding of workshops and conferences that did not include women among the presenters, a courageous stance that was noted at the time by the Washington Post. Dr. Clutter is also credited with the second largest reorganization within NSF in 1992 that resulted in the creation of the Directorates for Biological Sciences and Social, Behavior and Economic Sciences.
Dr. Mary Clutter leaves behind a vibrant legacy that will live on in the memories of her NSF colleagues. We are forever grateful for her service, dedication, and visionary leadership.
Joanne Tornow, PhD
Assistant Director for Biological Sciences