Biography

John P. Holdren is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government; Co-Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy in the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs;  and Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. He is also Senior Advisor to the Director at the independent, nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center. From January 2009 to January 2017, he was President Obama's Science Advisor and the Senate confirmed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), becoming the longest-serving Science Advisor to the President in the history of the position (dating back to World War II). His responsibilities in that role included advising the President on all S&T issues bearing on the President’s agenda (including economic competitiveness and job creation, biomedicine and public health, energy and climate change, the oceans and the Arctic, the Nation's space program, and national and homeland security); coordinating R&D strategy and budgets across the Executive Branch departments and agencies; overseeing interagency S&T programs, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program; developing initiatives in STEM education; advancing scientific integrity and openness in government; and representing the U.S. government in interactions with the U.S. and global science and engineering communities.

Dr. Holdren earned S.B. and S.M. degrees from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. from Stanford in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a foreign member of both the Royal Society of London and the Indian National Academy of Engineering and a former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His other honors include one of the first MacArthur Prizes (1981), the Volvo International Environment Prize (1993), the Tyler Prize for Environment (2000), and the Heinz Prize for Public Policy (2001). In 1995 he gave the acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international organization of scientists and public figures in which he served in leadership positions from 1982 to 1997.

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Dr. Holdren was a professor in both the Kennedy School of Government and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University, as well as CEO of the Woods Hole Research Center. From 1973 to 1996, he was on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he co-founded and co-led the interdisciplinary graduate-degree program in energy and resources.

He served from 1991 to 2005 as a member of the Board of Trustees of the MacArthur Foundation and from 1994 to 2005 as Chairman of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control at the National Academy of Sciences. During the Clinton Administration, he served for both terms on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, leading studies on nuclear materials protection, fusion-energy research, strengthening Federal investments in energy R&D, and international cooperation on energy-technology innovation.

Dr. Holdren has been married since 1966 to Dr. Cheryl E. Holdren, a biologist. They have a son, a daughter, and five grandchildren. John and Cheryl currently live on Cape Cod.

Last Updated: Jul 25, 2017, 4:03pm

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