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Dr. Willie E. May

Dr. Willie E. May serves as the Acting Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He also serves as Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, a new position created in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. Prior to this assignment, Dr. May served as Associate Director for Laboratory Programs, where he was responsible for oversight and direction of NIST's seven laboratory programs and served as the principal deputy to the NIST Director.

As Acting NIST Director, Dr. May provides high-level oversight and direction for NIST. The agency promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology. NIST's FY 2015 resources total $863.9 million in direct appropriations, an estimated $50 million in service fees, and $120 million services rendered to other agencies on a cost reimbursable basis. NIST employs about 3,000 scientists, engineers, technicians, support staff, and administrative personnel at two main locations in Gaithersburg, MD, and Boulder, CO. NIST also hosts ~3500 Associates from academia, industry, and other government agencies, who collaborate with NIST staff and access user facilities. In addition, NIST partners with more than 1,300 manufacturing specialists and staff at more than 400 MEP service locations around the country. 

Dr. May led NIST's research and measurement service programs in chemistry-related areas for more than 20 years. His personal research activities were focused in the areas of trace organic analytical chemistry and physico-chemical properties of organic compounds, where his work is described in more than 85-archival publications. 

Other National and International Responsibilities:
Dr. May has several leadership responsibilities in addition to those at NIST. He is Vice President of the 18-person International Committee on Weights and Measures (CIPM), President of the CIPM’s Consultative Committee on Metrology in Chemistry and Biology; Executive Board Member for the Joint Committee on Traceability in Laboratory Medicine; Board of Visitors for the University of Maryland College Park's College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences; External Advisory Boards for the UK National Physical Laboratory and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. 

Honors and Awards:
Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award, 1981; National Bureau of Standards (NBS) Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Award, 1982; Department of Commerce Silver Medal Award, 1985; Arthur Flemming Award for Outstanding Federal Service, 1986; NOBCChE Percy Julian Award for Outstanding Research in Organic Analytical Chemistry and Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Federal Executive, 1992; Department of Commerce Gold Medal, 1992; American Chemical Society Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Analytical Chemistry Award, 2001; Keynote Speaker for the Winter Commencement Ceremonies, University of Maryland, College of Life Sciences, 2002; Council for Chemical Research Diversity Award; NOBCChE Henry Hill Award for exemplary work and leadership in the field of chemistry; Science Spectrum Magazine Emerald Award, 2005; Alumnus of the Year Award from the College of Chemical and Life Sciences at the University of Maryland, 2007; Member of first class of inductees into the Knoxville College Alumni Hall of Fame, 2010; Fellow of the American Chemical Society, 2011; Honorary Doctor of Science and Speaker at Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Commencement Exercises, Wake Forest University, 2012.



Principal Deputy & Associate Director for Laboratory Programs
Office of the Director

Employment History:

Worked as a senior analyst at the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant for three years prior to coming to the National Bureau of Standards in 1971. Led research activities in analytical chemistry for more than 20 years with his personal research being focused in the area of trace organic analytical chemistry, with special emphasis on retention mechanisms in liquid chromatography, the development of liquid chromatographic methods for the determination of individual organic species in complex mixtures (i.e., extracts of environmental, food, and clinical samples) and the determination of physico-chemical properties such as aqueous solubilities, octanol/water partition coefficients, and vapor pressures of organic compounds. This work is described in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. More than 250 invited lectures have been presented at U.S. industrial sites, Colleges/Universities and Technical Meetings throughout the world.


Knoxville College

University of Maryland


Phone: 301-975-2300