On Friday, the State Department appointed E. William Colglazier, long-time Executive Officer at the National Academies, as the newest Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State (H/T ScienceInsider). He’ll be the fourth person to hold the position. His academic experience is in physics (the first physicist to hold this position), and in 20 years at the National Academies he directed the Office of International Affairs before serving as Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer.
As a National Academies report in 1999 encouraged the creation of this position, it was probably just a matter of time before an Academies leader took a turn in the job. The position has been unfilled for over a year, which is sadly consistent with the Obama Administration’s (in)ability to fill science and technology positions.
Arguably it is this position, alone within the U.S. government, that hews closest to the U.K. Chief Scientific Advisers appointed for each major ministry. The chief scientist and chief technologist positions in U.S. government are typically filled with civil servants, though not always.
I’m pleased to see the State Department position filled, and hope that the science envoys program may see a jolt of activity once Dr. Colglazier gets settled into the new job.