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John H. Gibbons is an internationally recognized leader in the scientific and engineering communities who has a deep interest in and concern for the support of science and the impacts of technology on society.
He retired on 3 April 1998 as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, (or as the position is most commonly known "Science Advisor to the President"). As one of six Cabinet-level policy assistants, Gibbons was the most senior adviser to the President and Vice President on matters of science and technology policy.
John H. Gibbons
In this capacity, Gibbons chaired the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. He also was a member of the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the National Security Council, and was a member of and oversaw the National Science and Technology Council, which also contains the functions of the National Space Council. Through these posts, Gibbons was responsible for coordinating science and technology policy and budgets across the federal government.
Gibbons received his bachelor of science degree in mathematics and chemistry from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., and his doctorate in physics from Duke University, Durham, N.C. Following his studies, Gibbons spent 15 years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he studied the structure of atomic nuclei, with emphasis on the role of neutron capture in the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements in stars.
Beginning in 1970, he pioneered studies on how to use technology to conserve energy and minimize the environmental impacts of energy production and consumption. In 1973, Gibbons was appointed the first director of the Federal Office of Energy Conservation. Two years later, he returned to Tennessee to direct the University of Tennessee Energy, Environment and Resources Center. In 1979, he returned to Washington to direct the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, which provided Congress with nonpartisan, comprehensive analyses on a broad spectrum of issues involving science, technology, and public policy. He held two six-year terms prior to his Presidential appointment on February 2, 1993.
Gibbons is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1994. Among his many honors are: the Federation of American Scientists Public Service Award; the Leo Szilard Award for Physics in the Public Interest from the American Physical Society; the Sigma Xi McGorvern Medal; the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; the National Science Foundation Distinguished Public Service Award; and the Chairman’s Award of the American Association of Engineering Societies. In 1995, his home state of Virginia presented to him its Life Achievement in Science Award.
Read John H. Gibbons' acceptance remarks.