Top DC Scientists Confirmed

DC Science / by Don Hoyt Gorman /

Holdren and Lubchenco have both advocated for strong government intervention to address the man-made causes of climate change.

Thursday evening, the US Senate confirmed the nomination of former Harvard physicist John Holdren as President Obama’s science advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Jane Lubchenco, the former Oregon State marine biologist was also confirmed to the top post at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Both Holdren and Lubchenco are former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and have advocated for strong government intervention to address the man-made causes of climate change. Both will leave current positions in academia to take on their science leadership roles in Washington, DC.

John Holdren was a Harvard University professor of environmental science and public policy sciences as well as professor of environmental policy at the Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He was also director of the Woods Hole Research Center, an ecological think tank in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Holdren headed the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international group of eminent, Nobel-winning scientists in 1995, and he won a MacArthur Foundation genius award in 1981 for his arms control work. After receiving a PhD in physics from Stanford University in 1970, Holdren taught at UC Berkeley, focusing on global environmental change, energy technologies and policies, nuclear proliferation, and science policy. From 1994 to 2001, Holdren served on president Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, where he led studies on preventing theft of nuclear materials, on fusion energy, and on US innovation. President Obama described Holdren upon his nomination as “one of the most passionate and persistent voices of our time about the growing threat of climate change.”

Jane Lubchenco was professor of Marine Biology and Zoology at Oregon State University. Lubchenco received her PhD from Harvard University in 1975 and has since served as president of the AAAS, the International Council for Science, and the Ecological Society of America. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Royal Society, and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World. Lubchenco is a recipient of the MacArthur and the Pew Fellowships, eight honorary degrees, and various other awards including the Heinz Award in the Environment, the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest, and the AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology. In 2004, she became the first scientist ever to receive the Environmental Law Institute Award. As the Administrator of NOAA, Lubchenco will have considerable influence on US climate research. She was a strong critic of former president Bush’s environmental policies.

Originally published March 19, 2009

Tags climate energy leadership policy

Share this Stumbleupon Reddit Email + More


  • Ideas

    I Tried Almost Everything Else

    John Rinn, snowboarder, skateboarder, and “genomic origamist,” on why we should dumpster-dive in our genomes and the inspiration of a middle-distance runner.

  • Ideas

    Going, Going, Gone

    The second most common element in the universe is increasingly rare on Earth—except, for now, in America.

  • Ideas

    Earth-like Planets Aren’t Rare

    Renowned planetary scientist James Kasting on the odds of finding another Earth-like planet and the power of science fiction.

The Seed Salon

Video: conversations with leading scientists and thinkers on fundamental issues and ideas at the edge of science and culture.

Are We Beyond the Two Cultures?

Video: Seed revisits the questions C.P. Snow raised about science and the humanities 50 years by asking six great thinkers, Where are we now?

Saved by Science

Audio slideshow: Justine Cooper's large-format photographs of the collections behind the walls of the American Museum of Natural History.

The Universe in 2009

In 2009, we are celebrating curiosity and creativity with a dynamic look at the very best ideas that give us reason for optimism.

Revolutionary Minds
The Interpreters

In this installment of Revolutionary Minds, five people who use the new tools of science to educate, illuminate, and engage.

The Seed Design Series

Leading scientists, designers, and architects on ideas like the personal genome, brain visualization, generative architecture, and collective design.

The Seed State of Science

Seed examines the radical changes within science itself by assessing the evolving role of scientists and the shifting dimensions of scientific practice.

A Place for Science

On the trail of the haunts, homes, and posts of knowledge, from the laboratory to the field.


Witness the science. Stunning photographic portfolios from the pages of Seed magazine.

SEEDMAGAZINE.COM by Seed Media Group. ©2005-2015 Seed Media Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sites by Seed Media Group: Seed Media Group | ScienceBlogs | Research Blogging | SEEDMAGAZINE.COM