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08/01/2011 07:00:00

Caltech Alum Named Top State Department Science and Technology Adviser

Caltech alum E. William (Bill) Colglazier, PhD '71, has been appointed Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Colglazier retired last month from his positions as executive officer of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and chief operating officer of the National Research Council. 

Colglazier is the fourth leader of the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary, an office whose mission is "to serve the U.S. national interest by promoting global scientific and technological progress as integral components of U.S. diplomacy."

According to a statement from the NAS, the Science and Technology Adviser serves as an advocate for science-based policy at the State Department and helps to identify and evaluate scientific and technical issues that are likely to affect U.S. strategic and foreign policy interests. Colglazier will also work to build partnerships with scientific communities both domestically and internationally, while promoting scientific and technological capacity building in developing countries. 

"I can think of no one who is as broadly knowledgeable of the state of science and technology across all fields and around the world," said Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering. "Bill knows the people, problems, and possibilities of science and technology in advancing America's global leadership and interests."

Colglazier earned his PhD in theoretical physics at Caltech in 1971. He has also studied and worked at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Before becoming executive officer of NAS and the National Research Council in 1994, Colglazier was a professor of physics and director of the Energy, Environment, and Resources Center at the University of Tennessee (1983–91) and the executive director of the Office of International Affairs (1991–94). He is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society.

Previous Science and Technology Advisers to the Secretary of State include Penn State geneticist Nina Fedoroff, University of Arizona chemistry professor George Atkinson, and Norman Neureiter, senior adviser at the Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Written by Kimm Fesenmaier