Obama Science Adviser John P. Holdren to Address Annual AAAS Forum on S&T Policy


John P. Holdren
Photo © Martha Stewart

John P. Holdren, assistant to President Barack Obama for science and technology, will deliver the keynote address at the annual AAAS Forum on S&T Policy, which convenes in Washington, D.C., on Thursday 30 April and Friday 1 May.

Holdren has long been an influential scholar on climate, energy and nuclear non-proliferation efforts, and his address opening the Forum will come during a session on U.S. research and development budget and related policy for fiscal year 2010. It will be among his first detailed public policy statements since being confirmed last month as Obama's science adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Joining Holdren during 34th annual Forum will be Gary Goodyear, Canada's minister of state for science and technology, MIT President Susan Hockfield, author Chris Mooney, and many other U.S. global S&T policy leaders.

The AAAS Forum is the premier venue for discussion of current issues in world science and technology policy, and that's reflected in this year's agenda. About 500 participants are expected for the event, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

"This year is unique in the 34-year history of the Forum," said Al Teich, director of science and policy programs at AAAS. "The nation and world face daunting challenges on several fronts, including the economic crisis and global climate change. Science and technology are central to these and the other top priorities of the Obama Administration, and the administration appears eager to make use of the best science and science policy in addressing these priorities."

Holdren served as AAAS president from February 2006 through February 2007, and as chairman of the AAAS Board of Directors for a year after that. He was chair of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs executive committee when the organization won its Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, and was chosen by his colleagues to give the acceptance speech.

Current AAAS President Peter Agre, who won the Nobel for Chemistry in 2003, also will speak at the Forum and will serve as moderator of the R&D panel on the first morning. Agre also serves as director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute.

Physicist Richard L. Garwin, an adviser to U.S. presidents since Dwight Eisenhower and an influential proponent of reduced global nuclear arsenals, will deliver the annual William D. Carey Lecture. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, was started in 1989 and named for the late AAAS executive officer. The selected lecturers are individuals who exemplify Carey's leadership in articulating public policy issues.

The agenda for the two-day Forum also includes:

  • An address by Hockfield, "The Growing Convergence of the Life and Physical/Engineering Sciences";
  • Sessions Thursday on the potential health impacts of climate change; global strategies for R&D investment by government and industry; and approaches to governing and regulating powerful emerging technologies in manufacturing, computing, health, and other fields;
  • A Friday morning session on the roles of science and technology in the global economic recovery and future growth, featuring top officials from the World Bank, Japan's Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society, and the U.K.'s Royal Society; and
  • A Friday afternoon panel discussion on the future of science journalism, featuring Chris Mooney, author of the upcoming book "Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future."