In Memoriam: Nixon’s White House Science Adviser, AAAS President

David leveraged his knowledge of science within the public policy arena at several points in a distinguished career and brought those skills to AAAS as president in 1979.

Edward Emil David Jr., a leader in government science policy and industrial research and development for over five decades, died at his home in Bedminster, New Jersey on February 13. He was 92.

David served as President Richard Nixon’s science adviser and was director of the White House Office of Science and Technology from 1970 to 1973. Among many professional accomplishments, he was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1979.

Active in other scientific organizations, David was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering and was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a life member of the Corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a life fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Further, he served as U.S. Representative to the NATO Science Committee and a member of the NASA Advisory Council, according to a family statement.

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, David spent most of his childhood in Atlanta, Georgia where he earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. After a brief stint in the U.S. Navy at the end of WWII, David completed his Ph.D. at MIT and joined Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J. where he became an executive director for research, the statement said.

In the mid-1960s, David was instrumental in developing a high-school engineering literacy curriculum under the auspices of the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with colleagues from both academia and industry, according to the family statement. 

Following his term as Nixon’s science adviser, David led research and engineering at the Chicago-based Gould, Inc. in the mid-1970s.  He joined Exxon Corporation in 1977 and was president of Exxon Research and Engineering Company until 1986. He then opened a consulting firm, EED Inc., to advise industry, government and academic institutions on the management of technology, research and innovation, according to the family statement.

David received numerous honors and awards throughout his career, including several honorary degrees from leading universities. Among them were the Arthur M. Bueche Award from the National Academy of Engineering, the Delmer S. Fahrney Medal from the Franklin Institute, the Industrial Research Institute Medal and the North Carolina Award for Science.

Outside his professional life, David was an avid tennis player and snow skier, travelled and photographed extensively with his wife of 66 years, Ann Hirshberg David. He was renowned as a collector of mineral specimens, a hobby he took up at the age of 6.  He is survived by his wife and his daughter, Nancy David Dillon of Virginia.