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AAAS Chief International Officer Named Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State


AAAS Chief International Officer Vaughan C. Turekian, who launched the association’s Center for Science Diplomacy and a related publication, Science & Diplomacy, has been named Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State, effective 8 September.

While the association recruits a new Chief International Officer, editing of Science & Diplomacy will be handled by William Colglazier, currently a Visiting Scientist at the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy, who had served as S&T Adviser to the Secretary of State from 2011 until 2014.

Building bridges between nations based on shared scientific goals has been a primary goal for Turekian, who joined AAAS in February 2006. Under his leadership, AAAS delegations have traveled to Cuba, North Korea, the Middle East, Latin America, and many other regions to promote science diplomacy and international research collaboration. In 2014, for example, preceding President Barack Obama’s decision to open relations between the United States and Cuba, Turekian helped AAAS forge a landmark agreement with the Cuban Academy of Sciences to encourage cooperation between scientists from both nations.

Since 2012, the AAAS online publication, Science & Diplomacy—launched at Turekian’s urging with support from the Golden Family Foundation—has brought expert perspectives on issues involving science and international relations to policy analysts, government officials, scientists, and educators. Articles have encompassed efforts to engage with North Korea based on mutual concerns about biodiversity, for instance, and the value of biomedical collaborations with Iran.

AAAS CEO Rush Holt, executive publisher of the Science family of journals, commended Turekian’s service to the association. “Vaughan has worked tirelessly and effectively to advance AAAS efforts in support of global science engagement,” Holt said. “Our presence and importance on the global stage have grown considerably; our journal Science & Diplomacy continues to set the standards in this field and exceed expectations; our relationships with other international organizations are strong; and we are helping to increase scientific collaborations and applications around the world, including in difficult situations. We are indebted to him, and we look forward to working with him at the State Department in the future.”

In a Science & Diplomacy editorial scheduled to appear 8 September, Turekian thanked his colleagues at AAAS and expressed enthusiasm for his new challenges ahead. “As we move deeper into this still-young century, it is becoming ever-more obvious that some of the most important drivers of international relations link to science and its applications,” he wrote. “Whether it be promoting economic growth and innovation at a global scale, responding to global pandemics, balancing ecosystem health with access to energy, or dealing with the proliferation of the most dangerous weapons, science and scientists are critical protagonists.”

William Colglazier said of Turekian: “Vaughan has made lasting contributions to the knowledge and practice of science diplomacy through his work at AAAS. Combined with his prior experience on science diplomacy as an AAAS Fellow at the State Department, I can think of no one better prepared and qualified than Vaughan for becoming Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State.”

Before joining AAAS, Turekian worked for the State Department as a Science Fellow from 2002 until 2003, and as Special Adviser to the Under Secretary for Global Affairs from 2003 until 2006. Earlier, he had been a program director at the National Academy of Science. He earned his Ph.D. degree in environmental science from the University of Virginia and his bachelor’s degree in geology/earth science from Yale University.