4 min readPresident-elect Barack Obama Announces His Science and Technology Team

In his weekly Democratic radio address, President-elect Barack Obama announced on Saturday (December 20th, 2008) key members of his Science and Technology team.

“Whether it’s the science to slow global warming; the technology to protect our troops and confront bioterror and weapons of mass destruction; the research to find life-saving cures; or the innovations to remake our industries and create twenty-first century jobs – today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation.  It’s time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America’s place as the world leader in science and technology,” he said in his Saturday radio address.

The key members of Obama’s new Science and Technology team include:

  • Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
    Dr. Holdren is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, as well as President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center.  He is also Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. From 2005–2008, Holdren served as President-Elect, President, and Chair of the Board of American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    Dr. Holdren is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations. From 1993–2004 he served as Chair of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the National Academy of Sciences, and from 1994–2001 he was a member of President Bill Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology.  Since 2002, he has been Co-Chair of the independent, bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy, and from 2004 to the present he has served as a coordinating lead author of the Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Development.  He is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship (1981–1986), the Volvo International Environment Prize (1993), the Kaul Foundation Award for Scientific Excellence (1999), the Tyler Environment Prize (2000), and the John Heinz Prize in Public Policy (2001), among other awards.  In 1995, he gave the acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international organization of prominent scientists and public figures in which he served as Chair of the Executive Committee from 1987–1997.

  • Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Nominee for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator
    Dr. Jane Lubchenco is an environmental scientist and marine ecologist.  She has been on the faculty at Oregon State University since 1978.  She is Past-President of the International Council for Science and a former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Ecological Society of America. She was a Presidential appointee to two terms on the National Science Board which advises the President and Congress and oversees the National Science Foundation.

    Lubchenco founded the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program and currently serves as Chair of the Advisory Board. She participated actively in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) and co-chaired the MA’s Synthesis for Business and Industry. Lubchenco is a Founding Principal of COMPASS, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea.  She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Royal Society, and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World.  She served on the Pew Oceans Commission and now the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative. Lubchenco graduated from Colorado College and received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in marine ecology.

  • Dr. Eric Lander, Co-Chair, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
    Dr. Eric Lander is founding director of the Broad Institute. As one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project, he and colleagues are using these findings to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the basis of human disease. Lander is also professor of biology at MIT and professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School. He founded the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research in 1990, which became part of the newly founded Broad Institute in 2003. He was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and the U.S. Institute of Medicine in 1999.

    Lander has taught MIT’s core introductory biology course for a decade and, in 1992, won the Baker Memorial Award for Undergraduate Teaching at MIT. He has lectured to both scientific and lay audiences about the medical and social implications of genetics, and delivered a special Millennium Lecture at the White House in 2000. Lander earned his B.A. in mathematics from Princeton University in 1978 and Ph.D. in mathematics from Oxford University in 1981 as a Rhodes Scholar.

  • Dr. Harold Varmus, Co-Chair, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
    Dr. Harold Varmus, former Director of the National Institutes of Health and co-recipient of a Nobel Prize for studies of the genetic basis of cancer, has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City since January 2000. Much of Varmus’ scientific work was conducted during 23 years as a faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical School.  In 1993, Varmus was named by President Clinton to serve as the Director of the National Institutes of Health, a position he held until the end of 1999. 

    Varmus has helped to found and oversee the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention; the Office of Diversity Programs in Clinical Care, Research, and Training; and the Women Faculty Affairs Program at MSKCC.  He served on the World Health Organization’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health; is a co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Public Library of Science, a publisher of open access journals in the biomedical sciences; and chairs the Scientific Board of the Grand Challenges in Global Health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has been a member of the US National Academy of Sciences since 1984 and of the Institute of Medicine since 1991.  Varmus graduated from Amherst College and earned a master’s degree in English at Harvard University, and is a graduate of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is married to Constance Casey; their two sons, Jacob and Christopher, also live in New York City.

Obama closed his address by emphasizing that his new Administration will engage leaders in the technology community and “harness technology and innovation” that will create jobs, enhance America’s competitiveness and advance its national priorities.

“I am confident that if we recommit ourselves to discovery, he said. “if we support science education to create the next generation of scientists and engineers right here in America; if we have the vision to believe and invest in things unseen, then we can lead the world into a new future of peace and prosperity.”


>> The recorded address video can be viewed here.
>> You can listen to the radio address here.

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