NAS, NAE, and IOM Members Selected for Obama Administration
December 23, 2008 -- U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has picked six Academy members to serve in his administration, including Steven Chu for secretary of energy, John P. Holdren as chief science adviser, Jane Lubchenco as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Lawrence Summers as national economic adviser. Harold Varmus and Eric Lander will serve as co-chairs on the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology along with Holdren.
U.S. Secretary of Energy
Obama has nominated Steven Chu, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of physics and of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, as energy secretary. Chu, a member of NAS since 1993, shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work trapping atoms with lasers. He is actively engaged in finding ways to address the world’s energy demands and has challenged scientists to find environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels. He served as committee member for many Academies studies, including America's Energy Future, whose final report is due out in 2009.
President’s Science Adviser
John P. Holdren was named to direct the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President. Holdren is a professor of environmental policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a specialist in nuclear arms control, global climate change, and energy technologies. Holdren is a member of both NAS and NAE and was chair of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control for a decade. He has also served as a committee member for over a dozen Academies studies.
Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Environmental scientist and marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco was chosen to lead NOAA, which oversees ocean and atmospheric studies and research on global warming. Lubchenco, an Oregon State University researcher who specializes in the study of overfishing and climate change, will be the first woman to head NOAA. Lubchenco is also past president of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Elected to NAS in 1996, she has served as committee member for many Academies studies, including Ecological Impacts of Climate Change.
National Economic Adviser
Lawrence Summers, a member of NAS, was chosen to direct the White House National Economic Council, where he will have a role in crafting national tax and fiscal policy. Summers was a U.S. treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton and president of Harvard University. He has also served as chief economist of the World Bank, where he played a key role in designing strategies to assist developing countries, and taught economics at Harvard.
President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST)
Nobel Prize-winning scientist Harold Varmus, former director of the National Institutes of Health, has been selected to serve on PCAST along with Eric Lander, professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School and founding director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Varmus and Lander both are members of NAS and IOM. PCAST -- a presidentially appointed group of 35 individuals -- enables the president to receive advice from the private sector and academic community on technology, scientific research priorities, and math and science education. Holdren, Varmus, and Lander will serve as the council's co-chairs.
In September 2008, the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine issued Science and Technology for America's Progress: Ensuring the Best Presidential Appointments in the New Administration. This report urges the incoming administration to use the best available science and scientists to help manage issues such as climate change, alternative energy, and veterans' health. The report lists 80 high-level positions that will be crucial in advising the new president on science, medicine, and health. It encourages members of the scientific community to serve in these positions, and suggests ways to streamline the search and recruitment of well-qualified people.