Is Kelvin Droegemeier in sync with the science policies of President Donald Trump? That’s what members of the Senate commerce committee will want to know when Droegemeier appears before them on Thursday to discuss his nomination to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
U.S. science leaders have applauded the choice of the 59-year-old vice president for research and emeritus professor of meteorology at The University of Oklahoma in Norman. A life-long Republican, he upheld the community’s core values during a 12-year term as a member of the National Science Board, the presidentially appointed oversight body for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which has funded much of his work on severe storms. Accordingly, it seems unlikely that Droegemeier will experience much turbulence during the hearing over any past statements he’s made—although his 2014 comments on climate change could raise some eyebrows.
At the same time, the OSTP director traditionally has also served as the president’s science adviser. (An OSTP spokesperson says Droegemeier, if confirmed, would “report to the president” but that no decision has been made on whether he will officially hold both jobs.) And given OSTP’s responsibility to coordinate federal science policy across the executive branch, senators from both parties may use the confirmation hearing to explore what Droegemeier thinks about several controversial positions the Trump administration has taken that either rely on scientific evidence or affect the health of the research community.