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Trump Announces Choice for Director of White House Science Office

Droegemeier, then vice chairman of the National Science Board, joins France A. Córdova at her swearing-in ceremony as National Science Foundation director. |  Sandy Schaeffer/NSF

President Donald Trump will nominate meteorologist Kelvin K. Droegemeier to serve as the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, according to a White House statement. The development drew strong support from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Rush Holt, chief executive officer of AAAS, applauded the selection, noting Droegemeier’s dedication to a broad range of scientific endeavors and public service, including two presidential appointments to the National Science Board on which he most recently served as vice chairman.

“His years working on the National Science Board during the Bush and Obama administrations and on the Governor of Oklahoma’s Science and Technology Council validate Droegemeier’s ability to work in bipartisan fashion and across many parts of the government, experience that will serve the president and our nation well,” said Holt in a statement

For more than a year and a half, AAAS has repeatedly urged the president to appoint a White House science adviser, or a director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, to ensure scientific knowledge informs and assists the development of policy solutions. 

With the nomination of a director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the president will not renew the position of White House science adviser, a post President Barack Obama created to elevate the role of science in policymaking and ensure that a leading scientist has a direct reporting line to the president.

Droegemeier, an extreme weather scientist, has held multiple science leadership positions at the University of Oklahoma, most recently as its vice president of research, and at National Science Foundation centers. He co-founded and directed a collaborative atmospheric sensing center and a NSF Science and Technology Center that analyzed and predicted storms.

Beyond his academic and research work, Droegemeier has testified before House and Senate panels on supercomputing centers, federal science funding, hurricane research and how to leverage research and development in science and technology to improve U.S. competitiveness.

In 2014, Droegemeier was named a AAAS Fellow, a distinction in recognition of contributions to science and technology, scientific leadership and extraordinary achievements across disciplines. He holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned his undergraduate degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma.

The position of director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy requires Senate confirmation.

Note: This story has been updated with announcement by White House.

[Associated image: Kropic/Adobe Stock]