President Barack Obama has announced his intent to nominate Sherburne “Shere” Abbott, director of the Center for Science and Practice of Sustainability at The University of Texas at Austin, to a key administration post as associate director of environment for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. An appointment to that position would be subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Abbott, a faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts, has been director of the Center for Science and Practice of Sustainability for the university’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost since 2006.
“If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with the president’s distinguished science team to address the environmental challenges facing the nation and the world, and to build new ties between the U.S. government science agencies and universities to find solutions that benefit both the economy and the environment,” said Abbott.
Provost Steven Leslie said, “We are fortunate, indeed, to have had Shere Abbott’s leadership and vision in sustainability at The University of Texas at Austin. She understands the great environmental challenges we face worldwide and her focus on solutions will benefit our nation as she takes on this important new responsibility in the Obama administration.”
Abbott earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Goucher College and her master’s degree in environmental science and natural resource policy from Yale University, where she was a Dodge Fellow in Human – Animal Ecology.
Prior to working at The University of Texas at Austin, Abbott was chief international officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general science organization in the world. In that role, she was responsible for the International Office where she established and directed the Center for Science, Innovation and Sustainable Development. Previously, she had consulted on environmental science and sustainable development for private foundations, the World Bank, the Brookings Institution and other non-governmental organizations.
Until 2001, Abbott worked at the National Academies’ National Research Council over a 17-year period in several capacities, including executive director of the Board on Sustainable Development, where she directed the Sustainability Transition Study and the Global Change Research Program. She also had been director of international organization programs for the Office of International Affairs and director of the Polar Research Board. Abbott also had been assistant scientific program director of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, an independent federal agency, where she managed the research program and developed a model of environmental research for monitoring human impacts in Antarctica.
Abbott is married to James Steinberg, former dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, now on a leave of absence to serve as U.S. deputy secretary of state.
The full White House press release can be found online.