Press Release - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Presidential Science Advisor John Holdren Returns to the Belfer Center

| Feb. 15, 2017

Cambridge, MA – John Holdren, the longest-serving White House science advisor in history, is returning to Harvard Kennedy School and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Effective today, John will again be the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and will join Dan Schrag in co-directing the Center’s Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy.

“It is difficult to overstate the impact of John’s work in academia and government,” said Belfer Center Director Graham Allison. “He knows better than anyone that science and technology are critical drivers both of the 21st century’s most important policy challenges—and of possible solutions. His tireless efforts to renew American leadership in science and technology are rooted in a deep commitment to build a more secure, prosperous, and healthier planet. We are honored to welcome John back home.”

 “I am delighted to be back at the Center that was so impactful in my own professional journey – and which remains indispensable to the work of developing sound policy responses to the world’s most pressing challenges in science, technology, and international affairs,” said Holdren. “I look forward to engaging again with staff, scholars, and students here and across Harvard.”

When he became president, Barack Obama promised to “restore science to its rightful place.” The man he chose to lead that effort was Holdren.

As Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office for Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), Holdren worked closely with President Obama, OSTP, and PCAST through both terms to reinvigorate the federal government’s focus on the roles of science, technology, and innovation in meeting the nation’s economic, environmental, public-health, and security challenges.

Holdren, whom President Obama called “one of the most passionate and persistent voices of our time about the growing threat of climate change,” worked closely with John Podesta and former Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project Director Kelly Sims Gallagher to forge a historic agreement with China to limit carbon emissions, which paved the way for the global climate agreement in Paris a year later.

Holdren holds advanced degrees in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics from MIT and Stanford. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations.  He is also a foreign member of the 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. He served as a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2005, as Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control from 1994 to 2005, and as Co-Chair of the independent, bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy from 2002 to 2009.

His awards include a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the John Heinz Prize in Public Policy, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and the Volvo Environment Prize. In December 1995, he gave the acceptance lecture 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 held leadership positions from 1982 to 1997.

He lives in Falmouth, Massachusetts, with his wife, biologist Cheryl Holdren, with whom he has two children and five grandchildren.


Contact: Sharon Wilke, Associate Director of Communications, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Sharon_Wilke@hks.harvardedu | 617-495-9858.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Presidential Science Advisor John Holdren Returns to the Belfer Center.” Press Release, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, February 15, 2017.