The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Aug. 23 hosted a hearing on President Trump’s nomination of Kelvin Droegemeier, Ph.D., to be the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) [see Washington Highlights, August 3], along with two other nominees under the committee’s jurisdiction.
Committee Chair John Thune (R-S.D.) opened the hearing by welcoming the “terrific nominees” and sharing Dr. Droegemeier’s career accomplishments in academia and government, concluding that he was “eminently qualified to lead OSTP.” Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) officially introduced the nominee, who is currently Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma and holds his doctorate in atmospheric science, highlighting Dr. Droegemeier’s 25 years of science policy work with the government and sharing “wholehearted support” for the nomination.
In Dr. Droegemeier’s opening statement, he identified himself as a “scientist, storm chaser, and educator.” He shared that, if confirmed, he would work to expand public-private partnerships for greater efficiency in the research and development process and pledged to “safeguard economic and national security” in reference to continuing threats from China and Russia to American intellectual property.
During committee questioning, Dr. Droegemeier also shared his view of the importance of science being conducted “free from political interference” and highlighted the importance of using scientific evidence in policymaking.
Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) inquired about reactions to the June 2018 National Academies report on sexual harassment of women in science [see Washington Highlights, June 15], prompting Dr. Droegemeier to suggest that convening all research and development agencies to work together to improve harassment policies could help make progress against what he described as “unacceptable behavior.”
Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) asked Dr. Droegemeier how he would work to address STEM education and a diverse scientific workforce. Dr. Droegemeier shared his passion for this topic, suggesting more work is needed to build a more gender- and ethnically-diverse workforce by better engaging with students from kindergarten through higher education
AAMC Executive Vice President Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D., sent an Aug. 23 letter to committee leadership in support of the nomination, stating that Droegemeier’s qualifications “will equip him well to oversee the office, offer sage counsel, and help shape a thriving, evidence-based federal science agenda.”
The committee is scheduled to meet Aug. 29 in an executive session to consider referring Dr. Droegemeier’s nomination to the full Senate.