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Black History Month
2022 Honoree

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Sandra Richardson

Sandra Richardson

Acting Deputy Division Director

Division of Undergraduate Education

National Science Foundation

Dr. Sandra Richardson is the Acting Deputy Division Director for the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). In 2020, she also served as Acting Director of the Science and Engineering Indicators Program in the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics at NSF. She has served as a permanent Program Director in DUE since January 2016 and was recently appointed to serve as the next Section Head for NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) section within the Office of Integrative Activities. In these NSF roles, Dr. Richardson collaborates with colleagues to oversee the research and development agenda for undergraduate mathematics and STEM education. She also manages a portfolio of innovative and competitive mathematics and STEM education research projects funded through several EHR and other NSF programs.


Before joining NSF, Dr. Richardson served as an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Virginia State University (VSU). She received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Dillard University and Master of Science and PhD in Mathematics Education from Purdue University. She graduated from high school at 15 years old, earned her PhD at 23, and was a tenured, Associate Professor at 28. She is originally from Tuskegee, Alabama, a place where she was surrounded by others who consistently showed her the beauty of mathematics through a host of formal and informal experiences, including shadowing mentors at Tuskegee University from an early age, participating and teaching in extracurricular academic programs during her K-12 school years, and receiving NSF-funded internships, scholarships, and fellowships as an undergraduate and graduate student.


While at VSU, Dr. Richardson was instrumental in increasing the number of undergraduate mathematics majors and retaining them through completion of their baccalaureate program and broadening participation of African Americans in undergraduate STEM and STEM education research experiences. Enhancing students’ academic success, indirectly or directly, is a constant thread in all aspects of her career and one of the most prominent joys of both her personal and professional life. Dr. Richardson’s research and scholarly interests have been motivated by the intersection of her personal and professional experiences as a student, teacher, and academic. Her research interests include developing effective tools for undergraduate mathematics curricula, mathematics teacher education, and broadening the participation in undergraduate and graduate STEM majors and STEM careers. She has a specific passion for inspiring Black students to pursue advanced degrees in mathematics and still mentors and tutors K-12 and undergraduate students.


Dr. Richardson is a Mathematical Association of America Project NExT Fellow. She has received several NSF Special Act Awards, a University Excellence in Teaching and Research Merit Award, the Dillard University Young Alumni Award, and Texas State Teachers Association Advisor of the Year Award. She also spent time preparing mathematics teachers in Cape Coast, Ghana. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (Psi Rho Omega Chapter in Loudoun Co, VA), and enjoys family time, board and card games, bicycling, and boxing. She often says “these beginnings know not their endings” to remind others that all students have the potential to be great and it’s our responsibility to provide the needed beginnings for this greatness to flourish.