U.S. Science Envoy Program

Date: 2016 Description: Science Envoy Dr. Margaret Leinen snorkels in Fiji - State Dept Image

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, 18 Envoys have visited 41 countries across Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, South America, and Southeast Asia and have engaged with dozens 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

Current Science Envoys

  • Dr. Linda Abriola – Dean of Engineering and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts University:  Creating STEM and Engineering networks.
  • 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. 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. Daniel Kammen – Distinguished Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley:  Building capacity for renewable energies.
  • 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. 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.

Former Science Envoys

  • 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. 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. 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. 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.
  • Dr. Ahmed Zewail – Recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Promoting the creation of science policy Centers for Excellence in Egypt and Qatar.