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Lewis M. Branscomb is Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management (emeritus) in Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Until July 1996, he directed the school's Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His current research focuses on domestic and international research and innovation policy, information infrastructure, and on the funding and management of science and technology.
Dr. Branscomb was graduated BA in physics from Duke University summa cum laude in 1945 and PhD from Harvard in 1949, when he was appointed Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows. A research physicist at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now the National Institute for Standards and Technology) from 1951 to 1972, he, with Stephen J. Smith, founded the crossed-beam study of structure and spectra of atomic and molecular negative ions, and applied this knowledge to chemical aeronomy, stellar atmospheres and ionized hypersonic wakes. He served as Editor of the Reviews of Modern Physics from 1963-1969 and was President of the American Physical Society in 1979.
He was the first Chairman of the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA) in Boulder, CO. He was appointed Director of NBS by President Nixon in 1969. In 1972 he was named vice president and chief scientist of IBM Corporation and later a member of the IBM Corporate Management Board. In 1980 President Carter appointed him to the National Science Board and in 1980 he was elected chairman serving until May 1984.
Branscomb was appointed by President Johnson to the President's Science Advisory Committee (1964-1968) and by President Reagan to the National Productivity Advisory Committee. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Public Administration. He served on the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee to the Technology Assessment Board of the United States Congress, and in 1991 was appointed to the Massachusetts Governor's Council on Economic Growth and Technology.
He holds honorary doctor of science degrees from fourteen universities. He is a director of four corporations (Mobil, Lord, MITRE, and Draper Laboratories) and is a trustee of Vanderbilt University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Geographic Society. From 1984 to 1986 was an Overseer of Harvard University.
Prof. Branscomb has written extensively on information technology, comparative science and technology policy, and management of technology. His most recent books are Confessions of a Technophile (1994), Beyond Spinoff: Military and Commercial Technologies in a Changing World, (with J. Alic, et.al., 1992) Empowering Technology: Implementing a U.S. Policy (1993), Converging Infrastructures: Intelligent Transportation and the National Information Infrastructure (with James Keller, 1996), Informed Legislatures: Coping with Science in a Democracy (with Megan Jones and David Guston, 1996), and Korea at the Turning Point: Innovation-Based Strategies for Development (with H.Y. Choi, 1996).