NJ rocket scientist congressman to lead scientific society

     Retiring Rep. Rush Holt (Mel Evans/AP Photo)

    Retiring Rep. Rush Holt (Mel Evans/AP Photo)

    When former Princeton physicist Rush Holt announced last year that he would not seek re-election, many scientists lamented the loss of one their own in Congress. But his supporters can take comfort that he will stay close to Capitol Hill.

    Beginning in February, the eight-term Democrat from central Jersey will take over as CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a nonprofit that publishes the journal Science and advocates for more research funding and improved STEM education.

    Holt said the new position is in line with many of the issues he’s been concerned with throughout his 16-year tenure in the House of Representatives.

    “Thinking like a scientist can really improve the formulation of public policy,” he said. “We would be a lot better off if the war makers and intelligence analysts had thought more like scientists when they claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

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    Holt also pointed to climate change and gun control as political issues that should be grounded in scientific and medical knowledge.

    “Science is not just another subject to be taught in school,” he said. “It’s an important way of understanding how the world works.”

    Holt declined to comment on his priorities as the next AAAS leader, saying that he was still focused on serving in Congress through January 3rd.

    When he does make the transition, it will be a homecoming of sorts. Holt got his start in politics as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow — a position supported by his new employer.

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