Trump Nominates Oklahoma Meteorologist to be Science Adviser

Credit: Matt Wade

President Donald J. Trump has nominated Kelvin Droegemeier, who is vice president for research and regent’s professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, to be the new director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. In that position, he will serve as the president’s chief science adviser if confirmed by the Senate.

From the announcement:

Dr. Droegemeier currently serves as Vice President for Research and Regents’ Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and as Oklahoma Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology. He co-founded and directed the National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms and the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere. Dr. Droegemeier served two six-year terms (four years as Vice Chairman) on the National Science Board, under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He earned his B.S. in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Droegemeier is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The nomination was praised by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who is ranking member of the House Science Committee. She issued the following statement:

“I am pleased that the President has finally nominated a Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier’s experience as a university Administrator in Oklahoma, as founder and director of NSF’s Science and Technology Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms and the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, and as vice-chair of the National Science Board will serve him well in this role. I hope that the Administration will heed his advice. Dr. Droegemeier knows how important our commitment to robust R&D and innovation funding is and he knows well the value of the scientific community. I believe when he is confirmed, he will work to advance the scientific interests of the United States. I look forward to working with him.”

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova said he was “thrilled” with the nomination in a statement.

Through his deep and years-long connection to the National Science Foundation, we know him to be a thoughtful advocate for all aspects of science.

Starting in 1989, Dr. Droegemeier served five years as deputy director of the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS), a pioneer in weather prediction and one of NSF’s first Science and Technology Centers. In 1994, he returned to CAPS as director, a position he held for nearly a decade. In 2003, he co-founded the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere. Throughout his time with these centers, he showed himself to be as energetic as the tornadoes he studied.

Dr. Droegemeier served 12 years with the National Science Board, including two terms as vice chair. As a board member, he always did his homework, asking great questions and providing NSF with valuable guidance on policy and strategy. During his recent time as Oklahoma’s secretary of Science and Technology, Dr. Droegemeier demonstrated his willingness to work as a force for unity on science and engineering policy, showing that research is apolitical, and yields benefits to all Americans.

Importantly, Dr. Droegemeier has exemplified the role of researcher as educator and communicator. For decades, he worked as a professor, shaping the careers of future researchers. He has carried his clear love for sharing knowledge and communicating the value of research into his subsequent work. At a time when NSF and its partners are working to enhance the economy, national defense and the U.S. position as a global innovation leader, I am grateful that such a champion of basic research has been selected for this important role.

Below is Droegemeier’s full biography taken from the University of Oklahoma website.

Dr. Kelvin K. Droegemeier

Kelvin K. Droegemeier earned a B.S. with Special Distinction in Meteorology in 1980 from the University of Oklahoma, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science in 1982 and 1985, respectively, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He joined the University of Oklahoma faculty in September, 1985 and in 1987 was named a Presidential Young Investigator by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Droegemeier’s research interests lie in thunderstorm dynamics and predictability, variational data assimilation, mesoscale dynamics, computational fluid dynamics, massively parallel computing, and aviation weather. An expert in aviation forensic meteorology, he has served as a consultant to Honeywell Corporation, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, the National Transportation Safety Board, and Climatological Consulting Corp.

In 1989, Dr. Droegemeier co-founded the NSF Science and Technology Center (STC) for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS), serving as director from 1994 until 2006.  As director of the CAPS model development project for 5 years, he managed the creation of a multi-scale numerical prediction system that has helped pioneer the science of storm-scale numerical forecasting. This computer model was a finalist for the 1993 National Gordon Bell Prize in High Performance Computing. In 1997, Dr. Droegemeier received the Discover Magazine Award for Technology Innovation (computer software category), and also in 1997 CAPS was awarded the Computerworld Smithsonian Award (science category). Dr. Droegemeier also is a recipient of the NSF Pioneer Award and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Excellence in Aviation Award. In 1999, Dr. Droegemeier incorporated Weather Decision Technologies, which now has offices both in the US and abroad. From 1999-2001, he wrote a daily weather science column for the Daily Oklahoman newspaper and in 2003, co-founded the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), serving for many years as its deputy director.

In 2004, Dr. Droegemeier was appointed by President George W. Bush to a 6-year term on the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation that also provides science policy guidance to the Congress and President. He chaired the Board’s standing Committee on Programs and Plans and Task force on Cost Sharing, and co-chaired the Hurricane Research Task Force. In 2010, Dr. Droegemeier was nominated by President Barack Obama for a second term on the National Science Board (Senate confirmation pending).

In 2005, Dr. Droegemeier was appointed Associate Vice President for Research and in 2009, Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, former Chairman of the Board of the University Corporation Atmospheric Research, former member of the Microsoft Research Corporation External Advisory Board, and current member of the Boards of Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Oak Ridge Associated Universities Foundation, Council on Governmental Relations, National Weather Museum and Science Center, and Norman, Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce. He also is a Trustee of Southeastern Universities Research Association.

Accomplishments as Vice President for Research

Upon becoming Vice President for Research, Dr. Droegemeier launched Aspire 2020, a bold strategic planning initiative that centers on the goal of OU becoming the Nation’s foremost public comprehensive research university of its size.  Aspire 2020 involves three objectives:  Transforming Research Culture, Transforming Research Engagement, and Transforming Research Competitiveness.  Aspire 2020 does not involve creating a written plan, but instead serves as both a practical framework as well as a philosophy for continuously advancing research and creative activities.  New practices and paradigms created as part of Aspire 2020 are helping OU achieve its full potential as one of the Nation’s research powerhouses, and to date, numerous initiatives have been launched in direct response to Aspire 2020.

Specifically, the Center for Research Program Development and Enrichment (CRPDE) was recently created to assist faculty in developing their research programs as well as grant proposals.  A Strategic Initiative in Defense, Security and Intelligence (DSI) Research is opening new doors of opportunity in areas for which OU traditionally has been less engaged, and a Research Liaison Program has been established whereby one faculty member in each academic department and program serves as a point of contact to the Office of the Vice President for Research.  A new Vice President for Research Awards Program was initiated, and the Research Council recently conducted a pilot program on Potentially Transformative Research that resulted in two internal grants to faculty, one of $50K and one of nearly $40K.  A new competitive seed funding initiative, known as the Faculty Research Challenge Grant Program, is providing over $0.5 million per year to initiate new projects that show promise for long-term growth.

New emphasis is being placed on multidisciplinary research and especially bold, imaginative engagements with Federal agencies and private industry.  A major goal is to establish on the Norman Campus another meaningful Federal agency presence to complement the several outstanding NOAA organizations now in place.  The Norman Campus soon will establish a Center for Applied Research and Development (CARD) to support new types of grants and contracts, particularly those in areas of defense and national security, and launch a Faculty Leadership Academy.  And with great excitement, OU is developing a new vision for its Research Campus, which is closing in on one million square feet of developed space and now houses more than 350 private employees among more than a dozen companies.