NEWS

Donald Trump finally has a White House science adviser

Senate confirms meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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Kelvin Droegemeier

Kelvin Droegemeier is the first non-physicist to head the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA/Alamy

Nearly two years after he took office, US President Donald Trump has a White House science adviser in place. The Senate confirmed meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier for the job in a voice vote on 2 January.

Droegemeier, an expert in extreme weather, will lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is the first non-physicist to head the office since it was established in 1976, and his confirmation ends a long drought in the White House.

Trump has gone longer without a science adviser than any first-term president since at least the 1950s. His choice of Droegemeier has won generally positive reviews from science-advocacy groups.

In an e-mail to Nature, Droegemeier said that he is not sure when he will be sworn in as OSTP director and begin working in the role. White House staff are affected by the US government shutdown that began on 22 December, and many have been ordered to stop working until the shutdown ends.

The most recent shutdown plan for White House staff, dated 21 December, lists “Presidentially Appointed, Senate Confirmed staff” as one group that is considered “essential” and thus allowed to work through a shutdown. Droegemeier is consulting with the OSTP's general counsel to determine how the shutdown affects his Senate-confirmed position.

From 2009 until August 2018, Droegemeier was vice-president for research at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He also served briefly as Oklahoma’s secretary of science and technology, and was a member of the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, during the administrations of presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-00015-1

Sara Reardon contributed reporting.

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