Organization and Leadership

How was the NAS established?

The NAS was established by an Act of Congress, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. At its founding, the Academy membership was made up of forty-nine scientists selected from the several states remaining in the Union.

Is the NAS a government agency?

No, the NAS is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. The NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. The NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community.

Who is the president of the NAS?

Marcia McNutt has served as the president since July 1, 2016. Her current term ends on June 30, 2026.


How many members are elected each year?

Currently, a maximum of 120 members may be elected annually. Members must be U.S. citizens; non-citizens are elected as international members, with a maximum of 30 elected annually.

Can I apply for membership?

Members are elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Because membership is achieved by election, there is no membership application process.

How are members elected?

Consideration of a candidate begins with his or her nomination, followed by an extensive and careful vetting process that results in a final ballot at the Academy’s annual meeting in April each year.

Can I obtain a mailing list of your members?

No, the NAS does not sell its membership lists.