You’re not dreaming – Trump is expected to officially announce his nomination for the job of White House science advisor in the coming days.
This also means that Trump broke yet another ignominious record: it’s been 560 days since his inauguration that he’s decided to nominate an official to the post, doubling the last record-holder (hello, George W. Bush!). As noted by the Washington Post, JFK, Nixon, Clinton, and Obama stand in stark contrast to Trump, having selected a science advisor before they began their first term.
The nominee in question is meteorologist Dr Kelvin Droegemeier, a bona fide scientist, university administrator, and former vice-chair of the National Science Foundation’s governing board. He doesn’t just have a highly appropriate first name, mind you – he’s widely considered to be a great scientist and policy wonk.
Rush Holt, chief executive officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science, said in a statement that they are applauding the decision.
“Science and technology are embedded in almost every issue that the president deals with, and since 2016, we’ve urged the nomination of a respected scientist or engineer,” Holt said. “Kelvin Droegemeier is such a scientist,” he added, noting his experience that cuts across many scientific disciplines, from extreme weather to cybersecurity.
John Holdren, Obama’s former science advisor, told Nature that he’s a “very solid choice” who has “experience in speaking science to power.”
Droegemeier is likely to be confirmed to head the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which advises the president on a wide range of matters coming in from all branches of the federal government. At least, it was supposed to, until the administration gutted it last year.
There are essentially two layers of shock here. The first, and most obvious, is that this nomination happened at all. It’s not clear why it happened at this point, but the fact that it has taken place took everyone by surprise. The second is that Droegemeier is genuinely a serious, well-respected scientist and science advocate.