This month has produced some motion on filling vacant science and technology positions. Whether this represents forward momentum or the bureaucratic equivalent of Brownian motion remains to be seen.
There is one vacancy remaining on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, even with two nominees being confirmed around the beginning of the year. Jessie Roberson has been nominated to fill that vacancy (technically last held by a current Commissioner, Jeff Baran). Roberson is currently Vice Chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Security Board, and has worked for the Department of Energy both in Washington and at two different Department nuclear facilities.
This week the President also nominated people to fill vacancies at the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. Richard Buckius has been nominated to fill the position of Deputy Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which has been vacant since August 2014. Dr. Buckius has worked at NSF before, and currently serves as both Chief Operating Officer and Senior Science Officer. His academic training is in engineering, and Buckius served as head of the Engineering Directorate from 2006 to 2008.
Cherry Murray, a Harvard physicist who received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation last year, has been nominated to serve as Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy. There has not been a confirmed Director of the Office since 2013. Marc Kastner was nominated to the position in 2013, but did not receive a Senate vote before the end of that Congress in December 2014. Cherry worked at Bell Labs for much of her career, and also at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. She currently holds academic appointments in Technology and Public Policy as well as Physics at Harvard.