OSTP Full of Firsts

Office of Science and Technology Policy staff gathered for a few minutes Tuesday morning to celebrate a significant event: For the first time in a decade, OSTP has the full complement of four Associate Directors authorized by Congress.

Completion came this week with the swearing in of Nobel Prize winner Carl Wieman, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as OSTP’s Associate Director (AD) for Science. He joins Phil Coyle (AD for National Security and International Affairs), Shere Abbott (AD for Environment), and Aneesh Chopra (AD for Technology and the first ever U.S. Chief Technology Officer), under the leadership of OSTP Director John P. Holdren, who also serves as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Dr. Wieman is a physicist with a passion for science and engineering education—and an expert in the science of what works in the realm of education—who has headed up wildly successful science education initiatives at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of British Columbia. That makes him a great asset for OSTP since, as has been amply demonstrated by the President’s Educate to Innovate program and the recent announcement of Change the Equation, it is a top priority of this Administration to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Dr. Wieman also served as Chair of the Board on Science Education of the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition to his accomplishments in STEM education, Dr. Wieman shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 2001 for creating, for the first time, Bose-Einstein condensate – an entirely new form of matter. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a fellow and former chairman of JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Phil Coyle has been OSTP’s Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs since July. Before joining the Administration, Mr. Coyle served as a Senior Advisor to the President of the World Security Institute and the Center for Defense Information, a Washington D.C.-based national security study center. In 2005 he was nominated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the nine-member Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission. From 1994 to 2001 he served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Test and Evaluation.

Shere Abbott was confirmed in April 2009 as OSTP’s Associate Director for Environment, the first person to fill that role since 2000. Ms. Abbott manages a portfolio of science and technology policy that ranges from energy and climate change to environmental quality and sustainability. Prior to her confirmation for this position by the Senate last year, she was on the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin and served as Director of the Center for Science and Practice of Sustainability in the Office of the University’s Executive Vice President and Provost.

In May 2009 Aneesh Chopra was sworn in as OSTP’s Associate Director for Technology and as the Nation’s first Chief Technology Officer, in which role he also serves as an Assistant to the President. As such he plays key leadership roles in many tech-based Administration priorities including Open Government, the Nation’s innovation agenda, and expansion of broadband access. Prior to his OSTP appointment he served as the fourth Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, from January 2006 until April 2009.

With all four Associate Directors now in place under the leadership of Dr. Holdren—and with a talented  staff of experts in science and technology policy—OSTP promises to be more effective than ever in supporting President Obama’s science and technology agenda.

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