President Barack Obama chose a physicist who has specialized in science policy to become his science adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). John Holdren, who has run the science, technology, and public policy program at Harvard University’s Belfer Center since 1996, also worked as a theoretical plasma physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Announcing Holdren’s nomination on 20 December during his weekly radio address, Obama fulfilled a campaign pledge to have his science adviser selected by inauguration. Although the science adviser position does not officially require Senate confirmation, the OSTP appointment does, and past nominees have held off science advising until after confirmation to avoid potential objections from senators. Pending his confirmation, Holdren declined through a spokesperson to be interviewed.

Holdren is no stranger to advising the White House. He was a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and...

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