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Nominations & Appointments

FYI covers the appointments and confirmation process for key science leadership and advisory positions in the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch, particularly as they pertain to the physical sciences.

 

President Biden’s nominee to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has maintained a career-long focus on applications-oriented R&D and is an ardent advocate for applying the Advanced Research Projects Agency model to national problems.

The House Science Committee is pressing the Biden administration to seek significantly higher budgets for the Department of Energy Office of Science, arguing in particular that funding levels requested for science facility construction projects would cause them to fall behind schedule and incur additional costs.

David Applegate, a longtime U.S. Geological Survey official who has been nominated to lead the agency, discussed critical mineral supply chains and carbon sequestration with senators at his nomination hearing last month.

Mechanical engineer Evelyn Wang is on track to be confirmed as director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, having received bipartisan praise from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director and Presidential Science Advisor Eric Lander resigned yesterday after staff members went public with complaints that he had created an atmosphere of intimidation at OSTP through flagrant verbal abuse.

NASA has chosen Earth scientist Kate Calvin to serve in the dual roles of chief scientist and senior climate advisor, bringing new visibility to the agency’s efforts to monitor and mitigate climate change.

In filling his administration’s science policy jobs, President Biden has now named nominees for all but a few top positions in the White House and federal agencies. That record roughly matches the pace set by most other presidents of the last half-century and is much faster than President Trump’s historically slow appointment process.

Physical chemist Geri Richmond and soil scientist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe appeared before a Senate committee this week for a hearing on their nominations to assume the top two science jobs in the Department of Energy. Both nominees appear likely to secure Senate confirmation, despite the top committee Republican questioning Berhe’s qualifications.

President Biden has nominated bioengineer Laurie Locascio to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Locascio was a longtime employee of the agency who rose through the ranks to oversee all laboratory programs across its campuses in Maryland and Colorado.

The Senate has confirmed Eric Lander as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Lander is the 11th person to hold the job since Congress created it in 1976 and the first biologist.