John H. Gibbons is internationally renowned for his contributions to physics, energy, environment, and technology/public policy. He served as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1993 to 1998. As “Science Advisor” to the President, he was the most senior member of the White House staff on matters of science and technology policy. Prior to his White House service, Dr. Gibbons was Director of the U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) for over thirteen years (1979 – 1992). OTA was a bipartisan, bicameral agency designed to serve Congressional Committees as their principal source of independent, expert and comprehensive analysis on issues involving the impacts of science and technology on society.
After leaving the White House in 1998, Dr. Gibbons served as the Karl T. Compton Lecturer at MIT (1998-1999) and Senior Fellow at the National Academy Engineering (1999-2000) where he assisted NAE’s president on a variety of topics including the new NAE program in Earth Systems Engineering. During 1999-2001 he was Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of State where he assisted the Secretary in revitalizing science and technology capabilities, including creating the position of Science Advisor to the Secretary. From 2000-2001 he was the elected President of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.
Gibbons currently serves on a number of boards and committees in both private and public sectors. In October 2003 he was named Chairman of the Board, Population Action International and member of the Gas Technology Institute Strategic Advisory Council. He is a former member of the Board of the World Resources Institute, and a member of the National Advisory Council of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He is a member of The National Academies International Advisory Board, and is a Division Advisor to the Academies’ Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences (DEPS). He serves on two visiting committees at MIT: Corporation Visiting Committee for the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, and MIT/Alliance for Global Sustainability, and serves on the Advisory Board of a new MIT Journal, Innovations: Technology/Governance/Globalization. In the private sector he serves on the boards of Dynamac Corporation (environmental services), ACTION, LLC (surgical instruments), Interstate General, LP (waste treatment technologies), is chief academic advisor to Shenglongdu Co., Ltd. (China), and Technical Advisor to the Damac Group (U.A.E.).
He is a member of the AAAS (Fellow). American Physical Society (Fellow), and, American Philosophical Society, Cosmos Club, Council on Foreign Relations, and National Academy of Engineering. In recognition of his contributions in science, technology, and public service, Dr. Gibbons has received six honorary doctorates as well as many distinguished prizes and awards, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Philip Hauge Abelson Prize), Federation of American Scientists (Leo Szilard Award), National Academy of Engineering (Arthur Bueche Prize), Sigma Xi (John P. McGovern Science and Society Award and Medal), the Commonwealth of Virginia (Life Achievement in Science Award), German Government (Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit), French Government (Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques Diploma and Medal), NASA (Distinguished Public Service), National Science Foundation (Distinguished Service Medal), and others.
Before he was called to OTA in 1979, Gibbons was Director of the Energy, Environment and Resources Center, and Professor of Physics, at the University of Tennessee where he directed programs emphasizing energy management and efficiency and use and the environmental impacts of energy production and use. Prior to that he was the first Director of the Federal Office of Energy Conservation where he initiated and directed work on energy efficiency and public awareness programs about the value and need for energy conservation. He was a founder of ORTEC, now part of E.G.G. Corporation. Dr. Gibbons began his professional career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he was a group leader in nuclear geophysics/astrophysics. He did experiments for 15 years (mostly at Oak Ridge) in nuclear structure with emphasis on neutron capture reactions key to understanding nucleosynthesis of heavy elements inside stars. While at Oak Ridge he also worked on energy efficiency technologies, ballistic missile defense, and various environmental issues. From 1969 – 1973 he directed ORNL’s environmental program.
Gibbons received his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Chemistry from Randolph-Macon College (1949) and his Ph.D. from Duke University (1954).
He has written extensively in the areas of national science and technology policy, energy supply and demand, conservation, resource management, nuclear physics, and origins of solar system elements. Energy: The Conservation Revolution (1981) is co-authored with William U. Chandler. This Gifted Age: Science and Technology at the Millennium (1997), comprises selections from his writings of over 30 years in public service.
Dr. Gibbons and his wife Mary Ann reside in The Plains, VA.