Dr. John H. Gibbons, known as Jack, passed earlier this month following complications after a stroke. He was 86, and like many who served years in science and technology policy, has received little attention on his passing. Following a career in nuclear physics, energy and the environment, Gibbons served in lead science and technology policy positions for both Congress and the Executive branch.
Dr. Gibbons earned his Ph.D. in physics from Duke, following an undergraduate degree in mathematics and chemistry from Randolph-Macon College. He started his career at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory working on nuclear geophysics and astrophysics, energy efficiency, environmental matters and ballistic missile defense. He rose to direct the lab’s environmental program from 1969-1973. Gibbons then served as the first head of the Federal Office of Energy Conservation programs.
In 1979 Gibbons was appointed head of the congressional Office of Technology Assessment, an agency focused on providing scientific and technical advice to Congress. He led the agency until 1992, and was nominated by then President-elect Clinton to be his science adviser. He served in that position, and as head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, until 1998. After a short break Gibbons returned to government service as a Senior Adviser to the State Department from 1999-2001. A major accomplishment of his tenure there was to grow the scientific and technical capacity of the Department, including the creation the office of Science Adviser to the Secretary of State. Since leaving the State Department Gibbons had remained active in several scientific organizations and advisory groups.
Condolences to Dr. Gibbons family and colleagues.