Late on July 31, US president Donald Trump stated that he would nominate meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier as the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). This office is the highest scientific position in the White House, and for more than twice as long (paywall) as any other president, Trump had gone without appointing one.
The scientific community has had several reasons to believe Trump staunchly ignores much credible science. (See: his stance on vaccines, his treatment of the Environmental Protection Agency, his first appointment to chair the EPA, the current leader of the EPA, the current of the Department of Education, etc.) But his choice of Droegemeier seems surprisingly aligned with scientific consensus.
Throughout his career as a meteorologist, he has respected climate science and has advocated for public investment into scientific research and education. He currently works at the University of Oklahoma, and is also Oklahoma’s secretary of science and technology. He’s served on the National Science Board, which heads the National Science Foundation, and he has advised both president George W. Bush and Barack Obama about extreme weather.
“He’s a very good pick….He has experience speaking science to power,” John Holdren, the head of OSTP under president Barack Obama, told Science Magazine.
“He is, in the most positive way, a nerdy meteorologist who loved working on weather technology,” Roger Pielke Jr., a political scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder who has worked with Drogemeier in the past, told Nature. “He also has a knack for administration and working his way around the system.”
Fellow scientists have also expressed their delight in Trump’s choice.
Droegemeier still needs to be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed, he’ll have a tough job ahead of him; Trump has slashed the number of OSTP employees from 130 to 50. But having an appointee with a solid track record is encouraging for the scientific community.