Throughout his career, Collins has advocated for scientific freedom and responsibility, both as a faculty member and while holding local and national administrative appointments.
Currently, Collins serves as Chair of the Board on Life Sciences at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. In that capacity, he uses his scientific expertise to call attention to critical issues in modern science. As co-chair of the Academies’ Committee on Gene Drive Research in Non-Human Organisms, he was instrumental in establishing important new precedents for the responsible use of gene editing technology, especially the scientific and ethical issues surrounding environmental release of genetically engineered organisms. His findings are reported in leading media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post and National Public Radio.
From 2005 to 2009, Collins served as the Head of Biological Sciences at the National Science Foundation and as a member of NSF’s senior management team. The NSF director handpicked Collins to testify at a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives arguing that NSF is foremost an innovative agency that supports investigators who are free to pursue their best, most creative ideas. His testimony and related efforts supported NSF’s status as the premier U.S. funding agency across all of the sciences and engineering.
“The examples above are glimpses into the sustained record of his articles, lectures, and administrative actions over a career devoted to the free pursuit of knowledge and defined by a deep commitment to serving society and the scientific community responsibly,” says Kenro Kusumi, Director and Professor in the School of Life Sciences.
Collins is strongly committed to advancing science education both at ASU and nationally. He currently serves as a principal investigator on a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant titled “Teaching Transformed: Using Education Technology to Create a Culture of Inclusive Excellence.” The project explores the use of digital technologies to advance underrepresented student success in STEM fields, thus advancing ASU’s commitment to access, inclusion and diversity.