Obama announces nominees for NSF deputy director, head of DOE Office of Science

The White House announced today that President Barack Obama has nominated engineer Richard Buckius, currently the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) chief operating officer, to fill the agency’s second highest position: deputy director.

Obama also tapped physicist Cherry Murray of Harvard University to become the head of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, which oversees a $5 billion physical science research portfolio.

Murray’s nomination follows the failure of the U.S. Senate to act on Obama’s 2013 pick for the Office of Science post, physicist Marc Kastner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. This past February, Kastner became the first president of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, a new research philanthropy.

Buckius has served as chief operating officer at NSF since October 2014, according to a White House statement, and senior science adviser since June 2014. He also served as assistant director of NSF’s engineering directorate from 2006 to 2008, and led an NSF division on chemical and transport systems from 2004 to 2005. Since 2008, he’s been a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, where he has also served as a vice president for research. Buckius received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Murray was dean of Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences from 2009 to 2014. She has past DOE experience, having served as a top science administrator at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California from 2004 to 2009. Murray also held numerous positions at Bell Laboratories and its predecessors from 1978 to 2004. Murray earned her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by the White House in 2014.