President Obama has announced two picks for science positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Energy. The President’s announcement came on 17 April 2009. Obama chose Rajiv Shah for Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics at USDA and William Brinkman for Director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. If confirmed, Shah will oversee several USDA programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. Shah is a medical doctor who has managed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s agricultural development program since 2001. Brinkman is a physicist at Princeton University who was Vice President of Research at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. If confirmed by the Senate, Brinkman will oversee ten national laboratories and six interdisciplinary research programs, including the Biological and Environmental Research program.

In other news, the nomination of Sherburne Abbott to be Associate Director for Environment at the Office of Science and Technology Policy cleared the Senate Commerce, Science, and Justice Committee on 23 April 2009. Abbott’s confirmation must now be approved by the full Senate.


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