Sandra Cruz-Pol was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University working with passive and active satellite and ground-based sensors studying atmospheric gases and the sea surface emissivity. She worked in active remote sensing at UMass for her MS degree. Her BS degree is from University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM). All three degrees were obtained with the Suma Cum Laude distinction.

Before joining the NSF Engineering Division as a Program Director for the Engineering Research Centers (ERC) in 2018, she was a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UPRM since 1991. Her interests include microwave sensors, weather radars and climate monitoring. She was a member of the U.S. National Academies (NAS) Committee on Radio Frequencies (CORF) from 2010-2019. She was also an appointed member of the NAS Active Spectrum Study. Prior to coming at NSF as a permanent PD, she was an NSF rotator as a Spectrum Manager and as the Program Director for the NSF EARS (Enhancing Access to the Radio Spectrum) program in 2014. She was appointed by NSF as member of the U.S. Delegation for Spectrum Management to the U.N. International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Geneva and was the NSF Representative for the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) at the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and for several subcommittees. She received the NASA Faculty Award for Research in 2002.  Dr. Cruz-Pol is a Senior member of the IEEE. She was the Associate Editor for University Affairs for the IEEE GRSS Newsletter for 5 years.