Jan 3, 2019

Trump finally has a top science adviser

President Trump talks to journalists during a Cabinet meeting. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump finally has a top science official in place after veteran meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier was confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote Wednesday to head the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Why it matters: Trump took longer to name a science adviser than any other president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Trump administration has been grappling with complex science topics with a depleted science staff and no OSTP director.

  • The OSTP coordinates science policy across the federal government and conducts outreach to the private sector. Topics it works on range from the delicate nuclear negotiations with North Korea to quantum computing, AI and climate change.

The big picture: Once he starts work, Droegemeier will stand out within the administration for his mainstream views on climate science and other issues about which the president has baselessly spurned scientific evidence.

  • Trump has rejected the scientific evidence proving that human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, are causing the planet to warm, thereby worsening extreme weather events like heat waves and heavy precipitation events.

Details: Droegemeier served as the vice president for research and Regent's Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. He has a particular expertise in next-generation radar technology to predict severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

  • He is no stranger to federal science agencies, having served two six-year terms on the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama. Since 2017, he has served as secretary of science and technology for Oklahoma's Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

What they're saying: The Science Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 50 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities, applauded Droegemeier's appointment.

  • "Dr. Droegemeier is a strong voice for science and federal research funding and is ideally suited to oversee continued growth of essential federal research programs," the group said in a statement.

Go deeper: On climate change, Trump disavows his own scientists, government

Go deeper

Coronavirus updates: Market ends worst week since financial crisis

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The stock market ended its worst week since the financial crisis, prompting the Fed to release a statement. Meanwhile, the WHO warned that countries are losing their chance to contain the novel coronavirus and raised its global risk assessment to "very high" Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,860 people and infected more than 84,000 others in over 60 countries and territories outside the epicenter in mainland China. The number of new cases reported outside China now exceed those inside the country.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 hours ago - Health

California coronavirus: Latest case has no recent history of international travel

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A new case of the novel coronavirus in California was announced on Friday after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that 33 people had tested positive for the virus, noting the risk to the public remains low.

What's new: An adult woman with chronic health conditions in Santa Clara County who "did not recently travel overseas" or come into contact with anyone known to be ill was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus on Friday by CDC and California Department of Public Health officials.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 hours ago - Health

Big video game conference delayed amid coronavirus concerns

Photo: GDC

Next month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco became the latest tech event to be cancelled or postponed amid growing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: A growing number of events are being scrapped, including Mobile World Congress and Facebook's F8 developer conference. Some, like the giant SXSW event in Austin, insist they are moving forward.