April 2009 Issue • Volume 37 • Issue 4

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Holdren confirmed as Obama
science advisor

John P. Holdren was confirmed on March 19 by the Senate as the new Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which advises the president on science and technology in domestic and international affairs. It leads an interagency effort to develop and implement sound science and technology policies and budgets. Holdren is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, as well as Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard. Holdren appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on February 12. In a response to Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) question about how he would protect the integrity of science, Holdren said he will "develop and issue an overarching set of principles to ensure the open communication of data and results from federal scientists, and to prevent the intentional or unintentional suppression or distortion of such research findings." Regarding OSTP, Holdren told the senators that he will have four Senate-confirmed associate directors for science, technology, environment, and international affairs. He views the primary job of OSTP as one of coordination, and the building of relationships. Holdren plans to revive the National Science and Technology Council to ensure better coordination and communication between federal science agencies.

U.S. teen fertility tops that of other developed nations

Compared with other developed countries, the United States has higher fertility rates among teenage girls. Nonetheless, the fertility rate of girls ages 15 to 19 declined consecutively from 1991 to 2005, according to recent Population Reference Bureau (PRB) data. However, the latest data for 2006 may show a reversal of this trend, with the fertility rate inching upward. This trend is of great concern because of the negative effects associated with adolescent pregnancy, including lower educational achievement, unemployment, poverty, repeated pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, infant mortality, and high risk pregnancy. The PRB article was written by sociologist Rogelio Saenz, Texas A&M University, and Eugenia Conde, a sociology doctoral student at Texas A&M University. For more on this topic, see www.prb.org/Articles/2009/teenagefertilityrate.aspx. logo_small

 

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