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NU professor named to Obama’s science council

Lauren Kelleher

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Chad Mirkin, a world-renowned Northwestern professor of materials science and engineering, was named to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on Monday.

Mirkin, who also serves as the director of NU’s International Institute of Nanotechnology was one of 20 scientists, CEOs and educators appointed to the council by President Obama. Other members include Yale University President Richard Levin , former Director of the National Institutes of Health Harold Varmus and the chairman and CEO of Google, Inc., Eric Schmidt.

“This council represents leaders from many scientific disciplines who will bring a diversity of experience and views,” Obama said at the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. “I will charge PCAST with advising me about national strategies to nurture and sustain a culture of scientific innovation.”

The council was established in 1990 to create an advisory panel for the private sector and academic community with a direct line to the president.

“It’s pretty spectacular, I think,” said Mark Ratner, a professor of chemistry at NU and one of Mirkin’s colleagues. “It’s a really distinguished bunch of folks – I think Obama has gotten absolutely first-rate people on this.”

The announcement accompanied President Obama’s commitment of 3 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product to scientific research.

“Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment and our quality of life than it has ever been before,” the President told National Academy of Science members.

Ratner said his colleague’s achievement is “prestigious and significant.” Mirkin’s appointment comes as part of a renewed commitment to science on the national level, Ratner said.

“Obama wants to get serious about science and technology, really serious about research and development,” he said. “I think Obama is going to ask them serious questions and expect serious answers.”

Professor Mirkin could not be reached for comment.

lkelleher@u.northwestern.edu

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