The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology supports U.S. President Donald Trump’s nomination of Kelvin Droegemeier to be the next director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Droegemeier, a meteorologist specializing in extreme weather, would be the first person to lead the office since Trump’s inauguration.
Other OSTP positions also have remained vacant since Trump took office more than 19 months ago. The OSTP was reportedly staffed by only 35 employees in March, down from 135 under President Barack Obama.
Several Democratic senators sent a letter in April 2017 and then another in November urging Trump to fill key vacancies. They wrote, in part, in November: “(N)umerous issues have surfaced … that have demanded scientific and technical expertise. … (W)hen Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria struck the United States, OSTP lacked key leaders. Scientific and technical input would also have contributed to decisions around climate change, the Iran nuclear deal and North Korea’s nuclear program — areas where key decisions have been made over the past nine months in absence of a science adviser and other officials.”
Droegoemeier is vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma and has been with the university since 1985. He served two terms on and was vice chairman of the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, during the Bush and Obama administrations. Drogemeier previously served as a board member for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. Today, he is Oklahoma’s secretary of science and technology.
In a statement, ASBMB Public Affairs Director Benjamin Corb said:
“We applaud President Donald Trump on his nomination of Kelvin Droegemeier as the next director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The position of OSTP director has remained vacant for too long, and we hope the Senate will quickly confirm Dr. Droegemeier.
Dr. Droegemeier has an impressive record of public service and has the experience working with the scientific community that is necessary to help bridge the widening gap between scientists and the Trump administration.
The lack of leadership and staff at the OSTP has profoundly diminished the science community’s ability to communicate with and advise the White House. We hope that the appointment of Dr. Droegemeier will allow the OSTP to effectively influence future White House decisions.
We look forward to working with Dr. Droegemeier and encourage President Trump to include science and evidence-based decision-making in policy formulation moving forward.”
Several leaders in the science community have supported Droegemeier’s nomination. John Holdren, OSTP director during the Obama administration, and Rosina Bierbaum, professor of environmental policy at the University of Michigan who served on Obama’s council of advisers on science and technology, were among those who supported Droegemeier in a recent Nature news article. NSF Director France Córdova released a statement describing Droegemeier as a “thoughtful advocate for all aspects of science.”
In sharp contrast with previous Trump appointees — such as Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry and disgraced former Administrator for U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt, both of whom were adamant critics of the agencies they were chosen to lead — Drogemeier has a history of supporting the research community.
When the U.S. Congress was deciding how to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2018, Droegemeier voiced his opposition to cutting the federal science budget in favor of short-term savings in a 2017 opinion piece in the Des Moines Register. In the article, Droegemeier also highlighted the impact of science on innovation and economic prosperity.