Friday, December 19, 2008

Keeping it Real with Physics

The political channels are abuzz with word of another physicist tapped for a top position in the Obama administration. Word leaked out yesterday that John Holdren (an APS Fellow even!) will likely be named as Barack Obama's top science advisor. Much like Steven Chu at the Department of Energy, Holdren began his career as a researcher and technician, before branching into policy and environmental work. This really prepares Holdren for the challenges ahead, giving him firm grounding in both the practical aspects of energy technology and the political nature of advising proposed legislation.

Holdren has a long history of tackling the scientific challenges facing the nation. He began focusing on the world's ecological and energy concerns early on, publishing books and papers about them as early as 1971. Today he is leading the nation's scientific efforts to tackle energy and conservation issues as the director of the Woods Hole Research Center.

I find it very promising that Holdren was the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2006. The AAAS has been one of the leading organizations that promote the public understanding of science and sensible legislation in Congress. Both Holdren and the AAAS recognize how crucial accurate research is to understanding the world around us. Without their kind of work to promote public knowledge there would be no way to intelligently address huge science issues like global warming and energy consumption.

Now, as the likely Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Holdren will be the President Elect's chief advisor on all science related concerns. I think given his background, the office is in good hands.


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