Linda Blevins

Linda G. Blevins

Senior Advisor, Office of Integrative Activities, National Science Foundation
PhD ME 1996

For her visionary contributions to the nation’s scientific research mission by providing technical and policy advice, as well as spearheading the normalization of management practices.

Coming from a non-college background, Linda Blevins had to uncover the unwritten rules of navigating higher education and pursuing a research career. Over the course of 10 years, she earned three degrees in mechanical engineering and went on to develop a network of scientists and engineers through her service at four sites of the federal research enterprise.

In her early career, Blevins was employed by Sandia National Laboratories and at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where her research spanned chemical kinetic modeling of flames and fire suppression, instrumentation, soot formation, industrial furnaces, and coal and biomass combustion.

When she was recruited to serve a two-year rotation as program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), “I found my joy,” Blevins said. “I value public service, and I love demystifying for researchers, especially early career ones, the process of seeking and winning research funds.”

After fulfilling that assignment, she stayed in Washington D.C., and for more than a decade, worked for the Department of Energy as a senior technical advisor in the Office of the Deputy Director for Science Programs within the DOE Office of Science. She provided technical and policy advice on all aspects of science funding program management and founded and administered the Office of Science Early Career Research Program. In addition, she served on the White House Scientific Integrity Task force and testified before Congress on gender equity in science and engineering.

In her current role as senior advisor in the Office of Integrative Activities within the NSF’s Office of the Director, Blevins is the executive leader of knowledge management frameworks for the agency. Prior to assuming this position, she worked as the deputy assistant director and acting assistant director for the NSF’s Directorate for Engineering.

Asked to recount a moment of epiphany during her time at Purdue, Blevins said it came when she was a part-time staffer for the Women in Engineering Program (WIEP), hired by Dr. Emily Wadsworth to help set up a new mentoring program for graduate students.

“Being a woman in Engineering at Purdue sometimes felt isolating, like I didn’t belong. WIEP was all about providing personal support and strategies for women just like me. I gave others support by organizing monthly meetings and making mentoring matches, but I got more support in return. It is a point of personal pride that the mentoring program we started is still going strong almost 30 years later,” Blevins said. “The women of WIEP are my lifelong friends; I would not have gotten my PhD without them. Looking back, the most important thing I have done at every juncture of my career was to find my people. I am grateful to WIEP for teaching me to do this.”

Blevins, who has been married to fellow Boilermaker Gregory Fiechtner (MSME ’89, PhD ME ’92) for 22 years, maintains close ties to Purdue and values being part of the immense alumni network. In 2009, she was honored with Purdue’s Outstanding Mechanical Engineer Award.

“Life is human relationships, and your connection to Purdue will bless you with many of them,” Blevins advises current undergraduates. “It’s these relationships that, for me, have made the sacrifices of getting a degree most worth it.”

Career Highlights

2022-present Senior Advisor, Office of Integrative Activities, National Science Foundation
2017-2022 Deputy Assistant Director, Directorate for Engineering, National Science Foundation
2007-2017 Senior Technical Advisor, Office of the Deputy Director for Science Programs, U.S. Department of Energy 
2006-2007 Advisor, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy
2004-2006 Program Director, National Science Foundation
2000-2004 Senior Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories
1996-2000 Staff Researcher, National Institute of Standards and Technology


1989 BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Alabama
1992 MS Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech
1996 PhD Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University