Call it the "green team" or the "dream team." Either way,
President-elect Barack Obama's choices to fill top science and
environment-related posts in his new administration represent a
remarkable assembly of talent.
With his picks well in hand, Mr. Obama is positioned to reverse
what many see as eight years of sluggish action in the US and
internationally on global warming. The picks also boost the
prospects for wider use and further development of alternative
energy sources. And the nominees - particularly those who come
directly out of the science community - are expected to be strong
advocates for erasing political interference with government
Many groups have sent the transition team a list of actions Obama
could take to achieve the goals during the first 100 days, most of
which could be accomplished by executive order.
"In terms of appointing top scientists to key agency positions,
we haven't seen the caliber of scientists we're seeing now," says
Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group.
"Probably more important, we haven't seen such highly respected
scientists who also have been outspoken conservation advocates.
The challenge, however: Shaping a collection of driven, highly
accomplished individuals - including two Nobel prize winners - into
a group that can help implement changes Obama seeks in policy areas
ranging from shaping a green economic recovery and more aggressive
action on global warming to stem-cell research. That's the view from
several science-policy specialists as they look at the team Obama
The four most recent additions came over the weekend. They
include John Holdren, who heads the Science, Technology, and Public
Policy Program at Harvard University, as the president's science
adviser; Jane Lubchenco, a highly regarded marine scientist from
Oregon State University to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration; and biomedical researchers Harold Varmus, a former
director of the National Institutes of Health and Nobel laureate,
and Eric Lander, a key leader in the Human Genome Project and
founding director of the Broad Institute at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and Harvard, to serve with Dr. Holdren as co-
chairs of the President's Council of Advisers on Science and
These nominations come on the heels of earlier nominations that
include Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist from the
University of California at Berkeley and head of the Lawrence-
Berkeley National Laboratory to head the US Department of Energy.
The nominations also got a thumbs-up from one of the few members
of Congress with scientific expertise, Rep. Rush Holt (D) of New
Jersey, a physicist: "Those who want our nation to take real steps
to address climate change and bolster innovation ... are thrilled
with this news."
One key area where the appointments are expected to make a
difference is in correcting what many critics see as the Bush
administration's consistent distortion or suppression of research
conducted by government scientists.
In his weekend address, Obama highlighted the issue. …