Scientists to Trump: Appoint a Science Advisor

Thousands of researchers and science supporters sign an open letter to the president.

Mar 1, 2017
Tracy Vence

Trump in in Washington, DC, in 2011WIKIMEDIA, GAGE SKIDMOREAs President Trump continues to announce Cabinet picks, scientists are requesting that he choose a Science Advisor, and soon. “We urge you to make appointing a Science Advisor an immediate priority,” reads a February 24 letter signed by thousands of researchers and science supporters, in an effort led by the American Geophysical Union. “Appointing a Science Advisor quickly will enable the Administration to maximize investments in science and develop a strategic plan that secures America’s leadership in science.”

Prior to the inauguration, Trump and members of his transition team met with computer scientist David Gelernter of Yale and, separately, with Princeton physicist William Happer. In interviews with The Scientist, both men expressed skepticism over the widely recognized, evidence-based consensus that humans are contributing to climate change.

See “Q&A: David Gelernter, Possible Science Advisor to the President

See “Q&A: William Happer, Possible Science Advisor to the President

Donna Nelson, an organic chemist at the University of Oklahoma, was also contacted by—but did not meet with—Trump’s transition team. As The Scientist reported earlier this month (February 10), the White House has not yet indicated how many other people are being considered for the role.

“Due to the integral role of the Science Advisor, we urge you to appoint an individual with a strong scientific background who understands the rigorous scientific method, the need for evidence-based science, and who can leverage the collaborative nature of the scientific community and the value of scientific research in shaping America’s future,” the co-signatories wrote in their letter. “As supporters of science, we urge you to work with our scientific organizations as you commence the selection process and the important task of advancing America’s scientific enterprise.”