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 You are in: Out of Date Releases > Out of Date Biographies > A
BIOGRAPHY

George H. Atkinson
Special Adviser, Science and Technology
Term of Appointment: 09/23/2003 to 03/25/2007

Beginning in August 2001, Dr. George Atkinson served as the first American Institute of Physics (AIP) Senior Fellow for Science, Technology, and Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State. He was selected as the result of a national competition conducted by AIP and the U.S. Department of State. He focused on identifying future Science and Technology (S&T) directions of importance to U.S. foreign policy while working in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs. These efforts included (i) extended reviews of U.S. bilateral S&T policies during visits to France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Sweden; (ii) the initiation of a new generation of U.S./European Union dialogues on advanced S&T topics for foreign policy-makers designed to identify those "at-the-horizon" research areas meriting international attention and eventually mutual support ("Perspectives on the Future of Science and Technology" conferences); and (iii) an expanded analysis of US-Russian S&T research under non-proliferation programs (Nuna-Lugar) resulting in a proposal to create a new public-private partnership ("Market-based Commercialization Initiative (MCI)").

Independently, Dr. Atkinson formulated a novel program ("Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF)" program) that creates a new relationship between the American scientific and engineering academic communities and the U.S. Department of State. Tenured American scientists and engineers from universities spend one year in the Department of State before returning to their academic careers, where they remain available as experienced consultants to the Department for an additional five years. The MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, together with a large number of distinguished American universities, agreed to support a 3-year pilot program to initiate the JSF program in 2003. More than $4 million in non-government support has been committed to the JSF program. The initial five JSF awardees were recently selected and will begin their assignments in the Department of State in the fall of 2004.

From 2002 to 2003, Dr. Atkinson served in the Department of State as Senior Advisor for Science and Technology. As such, he remained engaged in a wide range of international science policy issues and in creating a new governmental framework within which the societal consequences of emerging scientific and technological advances can be rapidly identified and accurately evaluated. Of particular interest has been the formulation of a new program entitled the "Global Dialogue on Emerging Science and Technology" (GDEST). Administered by the National Academies with funding from the Department, GDEST sponsors several conferences per year at venues outside the U.S. and focuses on those "at-the-horizon" S&T areas anticipated to have significant societal impact within the next decades. Dr. Atkinson also designed a program to engage the S&T community in Iraq not involved in WMD activities: Science, Technology, and Engineering Mentorship Initiative for Iraq (STEMII). The STEMII focuses on creating mentoring relationships between the Iraqi and American S&T communities located in Universities through a grants program to rebuild the Iraqi educational and basic research infrastructure and personnel.

In 2003, Dr. Atkinson was selected by Secretary of State Colin Powell to become the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State (STAS). As STAS, he is the principal interlocutor for S&T at the Department of State. He has continued to expand the S&T capacity within the Department by increasing the number of scientists and engineers in the Department (e.g., JSF program) while simultaneously becoming involved in policy issues of both short- and long-term significance. As examples, Dr. Atkinson is one of the principal U.S. negotiators for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program involving nuclear fusion energy, and he has been directly engaged in visa issues concerning the S&T community.

Dr. Atkinson remains a Professor of Chemistry and Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona (on leave). He is the recipient of the Senior Alexander von Humboldt Award (Germany), the Senior Fulbright Award (Germany), the Lady Davis Professorship (Israel), and the SERC Award (Great Britain). He has been a visiting professor at distinguished Universities and research institutions in Japan, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, and France. He has more than 170 publications in referred scientific journals and books, as well as more than 66 U.S. and foreign patents. He has also received numerous awards in recognition of his teaching, including "outstanding teacher at the University of Arizona" as selected by the students.

*Phone: 202-647-8725
Email: atkinsongh@state.gov



Released on July 8, 2004

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