A meteorologist from the University of Oklahoma has been selected by President Donald J. Trump to serve as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) according to reports on August 1.
Kelvin Droegemeier, a vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma since 2009, must first be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. If that happens, it will come at least 19 months after Trump took office, the longest a first-term President has been without a top science advisor since 1976.
Droegemeier, who was appointed last year by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin as that state’s secretary of science and technology, would become the first non-physicist to serve as the White House’s science advisor since the OSTP was established in 1976.
Shortly after Trump was inaugurated, the National Ground Water Association sent a letter to the White House, urging Trump to appoint a science advisor. A similar letter will be sent to the Senate, urging Droegemeier’s swift confirmation.
In his career, Droegemeier has also served on the National Science Board under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. He is considered an expert on extreme-weather events and a known supporter of federally funded research.
He would take over a vastly different OSTP than the one under Obama. The OSTP currently has 50 staff members, a significant drop from the 130 employed under the previous President.
It is not known if Droegemeier would be appointed as an assistant to the President, a position held by recent White House science advisors but one separate from the OSTP director position. It was announced that decision will be made after a confirmation by the Senate.