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Kelvin Droegemeier

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

U.S. Senate confirms Kelvin Droegemeier to lead White House science office

The U.S. Senate confirmed Kelvin Droegemeier as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) last night. But this morning, the meteorologist remains at home in Norman, Oklahoma, weathering a winter storm and hoping to learn more about his status from his political bosses.

An emeritus professor and former vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma, Droegemeier was nominated by President Donald Trump on 31 July 2018 to lead OSTP, which coordinates science policy across the federal government. A Senate panel approved Droegemeier over the summer, and his nomination was one of several that the full Senate took up in the waning hours of the 115th Congress. His appointment was approved by voice vote.

Droegemeier is a former vice chair of the National Science Board, the oversight body of the National Science Foundation, and has long been active on national research policy. U.S. academic leaders are hopeful that he will provide them with the type of access to White House science policymaking that has been absent since Trump took office.

OSTP is one of several federal agencies affected by the current partial government shutdown; it has only a handful of essential employees on board. Droegemeier has been spending time at OSTP as an adviser since the Senate committee voted on his nomination in early September 2018. But he returned to Oklahoma for the holidays before the shutdown began on 22 December 2018, and he’s awaiting word about when he can officially begin work.