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Longtime physics leader from CU-Boulder nominated for White House post

Distinguished Professor Wieman tapped for Office of Science and Technology Policy

By Cynthia Pasquale

Carl Wieman

Carl Wieman, the director of the Science Education Initiative (SEI) at the University of Colorado and the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) at the University of British Columbia, has been selected for nomination to a post in President Obama's administration.

The SEI programs are aimed at achieving widespread improvement in undergraduate science education. Wieman currently spends 20 percent of his time at CU-Boulder and 80 percent at UBC, where he also is a professor of physics.

Obama announced his intent on Monday, March 22, to nominate Wieman for the position of associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Though Wieman left his full-time position at CU-Boulder in January 2007, he remains a Distinguished Professor on the faculty. A Presidential Teaching Scholar, he also was a fellow and former chair of JILA (a joint federal-university institute for interdisciplinary research in the physical sciences) at CU. Wieman conducted extensive research in atomic and laser physics and shared the 2001 Nobel Prize for the creation of a new form of matter known as "Bose-Einstein condensation."

He was the founding Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Science Education and received numerous awards, including the National Science Foundation's Distinguished Teaching Scholar Award (2001), the Carnegie Foundation's U.S. University Professor of the Year Award (2004) and the American Association of Physics Teachers' Oersted Medal (2007) for his work on science education.

Wieman received his bachelor of science degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1977.

"If confirmed by Congress, Dr. Wieman will be a dynamic leader in helping to form effective science and technology policies for our nation," said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. "He has been a peerless researcher and teacher, and has been tireless in his devotion to science education over the last decade, revolutionizing how we teach at CU-Boulder and changing the landscape of teaching globally and nationally."

If named to the White House post, Wieman would take a leave of absence from both CU-Boulder and UBC.

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