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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan May 13, 2009

Obama appoints Holdren as science adviser

President Barack Obama appointed John P. Holdren to three different positions involving science. Holdren is assistant to the president for science and technology; the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President; and co-chair of the President"s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST).

Holdren holds advanced degrees in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics from MIT and Stanford University. Prior to his appointment, he was director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University"s Kennedy School of Government. He served concurrently as professor of environmental science and policy in Harvard"s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and as director of the independent, nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center. Holdren was confirmed by the Senate on March 19, 2009.

Holdren gave one of his first extended interviews to National Public Radio on May 8, 2009. In the interview, he discussed his first task of establishing new guidelines for scientific integrity, as well as continuing the space missions of NASA, the challenges of global warming, swine flu, and the difficulties scientists have in their careers.

He also took a question from a young-sounding caller on whether technology from Star Trek would one day be a reality. Holdren said the transporters ("Beam me up, Scottie!") would be difficult, while cloaking devices have seen advances.

"There are lot of fabulous technologies in Star Trek ," Holdren said. "One of them is the fusion drive of the starship Enterprise . My own technical background, by the way, was in fusion science. I'd love to see that work. And I think we will have more investment in fusion over the years. And maybe we will ultimately have a fusion drive for starships."

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