Trump Nominates Sam Clovis to Lead USDA Research

The choice of an economics professor and climate change denialist is slammed by science advocates.

kerry grens
Kerry Grens

Kerry served as The Scientist’s news director until 2021. Before joining The Scientist in 2013, she was a stringer for Reuters Health, the senior health and science reporter at...

View full profile.


Learn about our editorial policies.

Jul 20, 2017

FLICKR, ALEX HANSONPresident Donald Trump has selected Sam Clovis, a former economics professor and  advisor to Trump’s campaign as undersecretary for research, education, and economics at the Department of Agriculture (USDA). Clovis has been serving as a White House advisor to the USDA since January.

Clovis earned a doctorate in public administration, taught economics at Morningside College in Iowa, and spent 25 years in the Air Force, according to a White House announcement.

Unlike previous undersecretaries, Clovis does not have expertise in science or medical research. As ProPublica reported in May, “Clovis is better known for hosting a conservative talk radio show in his native Iowa and, after mounting an unsuccessful run for Senate in 2014, becoming a fiery pro-Trump advocate on television.”

Science advocates are calling the choice illegal because of Clovis’s lack of relevant experience—which is expected based on federal law, according to the Union of...

Clovis, who will act as USDA’s chief scientist, does not buy the data on climate change. Clovis told Iowa Public Radio in 2014 that, as far as climate change is concerned, “a lot of the science is junk science. I could probably be convinced but right now I’m not.”

Clovis has the support of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue. He praised Clovis as “a trusted adviser and steady hand as we continue to work for the people of agriculture. He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need,” according to a statement quoted by Agri-Pulse.

Interested in reading more?

Trump Nominates Sam Clovis to Lead USDA Research

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?