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John Holdren

Director of the
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Term Start March 19, 2009
Born March 1, 1944
Nationality  United States
Fields Physics, Aerospace Engineering, Environmental Science
Institutions Harvard Univ., Univ. of California, Berkley
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford Univ.
Known for Work on climate change and nuclear arms control, science advisor to two U.S. Presidents, past president and chair of the AAAS
Notable awards MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Kaul Foundation Award, Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Heinz Award in Public Policy

John P. Holdren is advisor to President Barack Obama for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)[1]

Holdren was previously the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center.[2]



Holdren was born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and grew up in San Mateo, California.[3] He trained in aeronautics, astronautics and plasma physics and earned a bachelor's degree from MIT in 1965 and a PhD from Stanford University in 1970. He taught at Harvard for 13 years and at the University of California, Berkeley for more than two decades.[1] His work has focused on the causes and consequences of global environmental change, energy technologies and policies, ways to reduce the dangers from nuclear weapons and materials, and science and technology policy.[1][2] He lives in Falmouth, Massachusetts with his wife, biologist Cheryl E. Holdren, with whom he has two children and five grandchildren.[3]

Holdren was elected President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2006-2007), and served as board Chairman (2007-2008).[2] He was the founding chair of the advisory board for Innovations, a quarterly journal about entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges published by MIT Press, and has written and lectured extensively on the topic of climate change.

Holdren served as one of President Bill Clinton's science advisors from 1994 to 2001.[1] Eight years later, President Barack Obama nominated Holdren for his current position as science advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in December 2008, and he was confirmed on March 19, 2009 by a unanimous vote in the Senate.[4][5][6][7] He testified to the nomination committee that he does not believe that government should have a role in determining optimal population size[8] and that he has never endorsed forced sterilization.[9][10][11]

Recent publications

Holdren is the author of over 200 articles and papers, and he has co-authored and co-edited some 20 books and book-length reports, including:[12]

  • Science in the White House. Science Magazine, May 2009, 567.[13].
  • Policy for Energy Technology Innovation. Acting in Time on Energy Policy, (with Laura Diaz Anadon), Brookings Institution Press, 2009, 89-127.
  • The Future of Climate Change Policy: The U.S.'s Last Chance to Lead. Scientific American 2008 Earth 3.0 Supplement. October 13, 2008, 20-21.[14]
  • Convincing the Climate Change Skeptics. Boston Globe, August 4, 2008.[15]
  • Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy To Meet America's Energy Challenges. Presentation at the National Academies 2008 Energy Summit, Washington, D.C., March 14, 2008.[16]
  • Global Climatic Disruption: Risks and Opportunities. Presentation at Investor Summit on Climate Risk, New York, February 14, 2008.[17]
  • Meeting the Climate-Change Challenge. The John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington, D.C., January 17, 2008.[18]

Early publications

Overpopulation was an early concern and interest. In a 1969 article, Holdren and co-author Paul R. Ehrlich argued that, "if the population control measures are not initiated immediately, and effectively, all the technology man can bring to bear will not fend off the misery to come."[19] In 1973 Holdren encouraged a decline in fertility to well below replacement in the United States, because "210 million now is too many and 280 million in 2040 is likely to be much too many."[20] In 1977, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Holdren co-authored the textbook Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment; they discussed the possible role of a wide variety of solutions to overpopulation, from voluntary family planning to enforced population controls, including forced sterilization for women after they gave birth to a designated number of children, and recommended "the use of milder methods of influencing family size preferences" such as access to birth control and abortion.[10][21]

Other early publications include Energy (1971), Human Ecology (1973), Energy in Transition (1980), Earth and the Human Future (1986), Strategic Defenses and the Future of the Arms Race (1987), Building Global Security Through Cooperation (1990), and Conversion of Military R&D (1998).[12]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d Profile: John Holdren "Why He Matters","", A Washington Post Co Pub. accessed July 24, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c News release. "Obama to Name John P. Holdren as Science Adviser"AAAS, December 18, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Wilke, Sharon; Sasha Talcott (20 December 2008). "Harvard Kennedy School's John P. Holdren Named Obama's Science Advisor". Press release. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Retrieved 2009-10-20.  
  4. ^ Staff and news service reports. "Obama's science adviser starts job", "", March 20, 2009.
  5. ^ Library of Congress [1], Nomination PN65-07-111, confirmed by Senate voice vote.
  6. ^ Nominations considered and confirmed en bloc, Congressional Record, March 19, 2009 S3577-S3578.
  7. ^ Koenig, Robert. "President Barack Obama's Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Faces Limited Criticism at Confirmation Hearings",Seed Magazine, February 13, 2009.
  8. ^ Video.[2]Senate Confirmation Hearing, February 12, 2009.
  9. ^ Pratt, Andrew Plemmons "Right-wing Attacks on Science Adviser Continue", Science Progress, July 21, 2009
  10. ^ a b Mooney, Chris."Hold off on Holdren (again)", "Science Progress", July 2009.
  11. ^ Goldberg, Michelle. "Holdren's Controversial Population Control Past", The American Prospect, July 21, 2009, accessed July 30, 2009.
  12. ^ a b "John P. Holdren's CV", The Woods Hole Research Center.
  13. ^ Holdren, John P. "Science in the White House", Science Magazine, Abstract, May 2009.
  14. ^ Holdren, John P."The Future of Climate Change Policy: The U.S.'s Last Chance to Lead", "The Scientific American"
  15. ^ Holdren, John P. "Convincing the Climate Change Skeptics", the Boston Globe, August 4, 2008.
  16. ^ "Faculty page-Harvard University".  
  17. ^ Holdren, John P."Global Climatic Disruption: Risks and Opportunities",Presentation at Investor Summit on Climate Risk, New York, February 14, 2008.
  18. ^ Holdren, John P. "Meeting the Climate-Change Challenge.", The John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington, D.C., January 17, 2008.
  19. ^ Paul R. Erlich and John P. Holdren. "Population and Panaceas A Technological Perspective", Bioscience, Vol 19, pages 1065-1071, 1969.
  20. ^ Holdren, John P. (1973), "Population and the American Predicament: The Case Against Complacency", Daedalus, The No-Growth Society: 31–44,,M1  
  21. ^ Ehrlich, Paul R.; Anne H. Ehrlich and John P. Holdren (1977). Ecoscience: population, resources, environment. San Francisco: Freeman. ISBN 0716705672.  
  22. ^ The Heinz Awards, John Holdren profile

External links



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