Through the Science Envoy Program, eminent U.S. scientists and engineers leverage their expertise and networks to forge connections and identify opportunities for sustained international cooperation. Science Envoys focus on issues of common interest in science, technology, and engineering fields and usually serve for one year. They are instrumental in strengthening our bilateral science and technology relationships, reaching out to foreign publics, and advancing policy objectives such as increasing the number of women in science and advocating for science-based decision-making by:
- Building peer-to peer connections between in-country researchers and the U.S. scientific community
- Advocating for merit-based, transparent, peer-reviewed scientific institutions
- Promoting science education and public engagement, highlighting the role of science in society
- Advising U.S. government representatives on programs and opportunities which may support collaborative activities
The Science Envoys are leaders in academia, Nobel prizewinners, distinguished authors and government advisors. Their areas of expertise include chemistry, physics, agronomy, medicine, engineering, and evolutionary biology. Since 2010, 23 Envoys have made over 60 trips to dozens of countries across Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, South America, and Southeast Asia and have engaged with a multitude of government officials, including Heads of State. Science Envoys meet government and non-government science officials, convene meetings on topics at the intersection of foreign policy and science, technology, innovation including in the areas of oceans, emerging technology, wildlife conservation, public health, STEM education and diversity, and energy. In some cases, Science Envoys also plan and execute regional workshops. Through the Science Envoy program, the Department is supporting the establishment, strengthening, and mobilization of regional and global networks of scientists around U.S. science and technology priorities and solving real world problems.
The success of the program was highlighted in the U.S. National Academy of Science’s 2015 report “Diplomacy in the 21st Century: Embedding a Culture of Science and Technology throughout the Department of State.”
Science Envoys and Focus Areas:
2018-2019 Science Envoys
- The Honorable Charles Frank Bolden Jr., (USMC-Ret.), recently retired from service as the 12th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). At NASA, Bolden oversaw the safe transition from 30 years of Space Shuttle missions to a new era of exploration focused on full utilization of the International Space Station and space and aeronautics technology development. As a Science Envoy for Space, Gen. Bolden will promote American leadership in space exploration and emphasize the importance of commercial opportunities.
- Dr. Robert S. Langer, Sci.D., FREng, is one of 13 Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (being an Institute Professor is MITs highest honor). Langer has received over 220 major awards and is one of four living individuals to have received both the United States National Medal of Science (2006) and the United States National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2011). Langer’s research is at the interface of medicine, materials science, and chemical engineering. As a Science Envoy for Innovation, Dr. Langer will focus on novel approaches in biomaterials, drug delivery systems, nanotechnology and tissue engineering and the U.S. approach to research commercialization.
- Dr. Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., MPH, is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, and is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota. Osterholm is an international leader regarding preparedness for a global pandemic as well as the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance. As a Science Envoy for Health Security, Dr. Osterholm will combat biological threats by working with priority countries on infectious disease preparedness and antimicrobial stewardship.
- Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Ph.D., is the Malcolm Gillis University Professor, Professor of Bioengineering, Director of the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health and Founder of the Beyond Traditional Borders Undergraduate Global Health Program at Rice University. Richards-Kortum specializes in creating new technologies to provide health care to vulnerable populations. As a Science Envoy for Health Security, Dr. Richards-Kortum will focus on expanding access to American engineering research and curriculum to build engineering capacity and opportunities for U.S. collaboration on the continent of Africa.
- Dr. James Schauer, Ph.D., P.E., M.B.A., is the Director of the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, which is the public and environmental health laboratory for the State of Wisconsin and operates as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Engineering since 1998 and holds the position of Peterson-Radar-Hawnn Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. As a Science Envoy for Air Quality, Dr. Schauer will highlight American scientific strategies and technologies for mitigating poor air quality with a focus on South Asia.
Former Science Envoys
- Dr. Linda Abriola – Dean of Engineering and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts University: Creating STEM and Engineering networks.
- Dr. Bruce Alberts – Editor-in-chief of Science: Increasing scientific cooperation through the U.S. – Indonesia Frontiers of Science Program.
- Dr. Bernard Amadei – Founder of Engineers without Borders USA: Social responsibility in engineering and development.
- Dr. Rita Colwell – Former Director of the National Science Foundation: Promoting opportunities for women and girls in science and STEM education.
- Dr. Gebisa Ejeta – Recipient of the 2009 World Food Prize: Advancing university partnerships and science and technology for sustainable development and innovation.
- Dr. Alice P. Gast – President of Lehigh University: Emphasizing peer-to-peer linkages, merit-based peer review, and the importance of science education to develop a robust workforce.
- Dr. Mark Hersam – Nanomaterials Professor in the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, and Medicine at Northwestern University: Building synergies in emerging technologies and innovation.
- Dr. Susan Hockfield – President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience at MIT: Promoting public private partnerships to improve collaboration and the importance of competition in driving innovation.
- Dr. Peter Hotez – Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas: Advocating for the development of vaccine development capacity for regional and infectious diseases.
- Dr. Margaret Leinen – Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego’s vice chancellor for marine sciences, and Dean of the School of Marine Sciences: Building networks of ocean scientists.
- Dr. Thomas Lovejoy – Awarded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement; Professor of Environmental Sciences and Biodiversity Chair at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment at George Mason University: Promoting wildlife conservation and biodiversity.
- Dr. Jane Lubchenco – University Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology at Oregon State University and former Administrator of NOAA: Promoting ocean science as an academic discipline.
- Dr. Arun Majumdar – Jay Precourt Professor, Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University: Advocating for Green Energy and the transition away from fossil fuels.
- Dr. Geraldine Richmond – Presidential Chair and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon, President of AAAS: Building science and STEM and Women in Science networks in South East Asia.
- Dr. Barbara Schaal – Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Washington University: Emphasizing the role of biotechnology in providing solutions to agricultural challenges arising from climate change and the value of science for an informed citizenry.
- Dr. Elias Zerhouni – Former Director of National Institutes of Health: Enhancing access to digital resources and funding for basic research across the Middle East and North Africa.
- Ahmed Zewail – Recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Promoting the creation of science policy Centers for Excellence in Egypt and Qatar