Meet our new board members

By | March 27, 2017

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has announced important new additions to its leadership:

Governing Board
• Steve Ramsey, former Vice President of Corporate Environmental Programs at General Electric

Board of Sponsors
• George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Personal Genome Project
Eric Horvitz, Technical Fellow and Managing Director at Microsoft Research
• Brian Schmidt, astrophysicist, Nobel Laureate (2011); vice-chancellor, Australian National University

Science and Security Board
• Daniel Holz, Associate Professor in Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago
• Elizabeth Kolbert, author, staff writer for The New Yorker
• Jon Wolfsthal, former Special Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security Affairs; senior director at the National Security Council for arms control and nonproliferation

Lee Francis, chair of the Bulletin’s Governing Board, expressed his delight regarding the addition of his new board member. “Steve Ramsey has wide-ranging expertise and resources developed over the course of an impressive corporate and public service career. He holds a unique ability to identify key issues related to governing and possesses the ability to be creative regarding solutions.”

Steve Ramsey is the former Vice President of Corporate Environmental Programs at General Electric, where he managed GE’s environmental strategy. He was previously the head of environmental practice at Sidley Austin in DC and was the first Chief of Environmental Enforcement Section at the US Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. He has served as a Visiting Fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environment, the Chair of the Board of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, and as a Fellow of the American College of Environmental Lawyers. Ramsey is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Texas School of Law.

Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, announced three new additions to that board. “The Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors brings together individuals of incredible intellectual power and achievement to advise the Bulletin. These three distinguished scientists are each deeply concerned about the future of life on earth and add addition breadth and depth to our wonderful board. I am deeply honored to welcome them to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.”

George Church is the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at MIT. He is recognized as a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology, having developed molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods and the first direct genomic sequencing method. He helped initiate the Human Genome Project and the Personal Genome Project. In addition, Church has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and authored the New Scientist “top science book.”

Commenting on his election to the board, Church observed: “It is a wonderful duty to join the 35 current sponsors of the Bulletin and, in spirit, the Bulletin’s founders, who ‘could not remain aloof to the consequences of their work.’

Eric Horvitz is a Technical Fellow and Managing Director at Microsoft Research. He is an expert in artificial intelligence (AI), with contributions in machine learning, perception, decision making, and on leveraging the complementarities of human and machine intelligence. He received the Feigenbaum Prize and the Allen Newell Award for his contributions to theory and practice. Beyond technical work, he pursues studies on influences of AI on people and society with efforts including the One Hundred Year Study on AI. Commenting on his election to the board, Horvitz mentioned: “For many decades, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has worked to raise awareness and to stimulate discussions and engagement on the influences of scientific and technological advances—with an eye on the long-term future of humanity. It’s an honor to be invited to contribute to these ongoing efforts.”

Horvitz serves on the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CTSB) of the National Academy of Science and the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). He is the former president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and chair of the Section on Information, Computing and Communication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is a fellow of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), AAAI, and AAAS.

Brian Schmidt is an astrophysicist and co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. He currently serves as Vice-Chancellor and President of Australian National University, where he was previously a distinguished professor and researcher at Mount Stromlo Observatory. His research with the High-Z Supernova Search team made the discovery that the rate of expansion of the universe is accelerating and initiated research into the existence of dark energy. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the United States Academy of Science, and the Royal Society. Schmidt earned Bachelor degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Arizona and a Masters and PhD in physics from Harvard University. “The challenging of scientific expertise may not be new, but its current prominent place in civic society is a worrisome development that must be addressed,” Schmidt stated on Thursday. “There’s never been a more important time to be involved.”

The Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsScience and Security Board is largely responsible for the setting of the organization’s iconic Doomsday Clock. In consultation with the organization’s Board of Sponsors, the Science and Security Board meets to consider research and trends that affect the Clock’s time.

Robert Rosner and Lynn Eden, co-chairs of the Science and Security Board, expressed their delight after Thursday’s announcement adding three new members to the board. “These additions to the Science and Security Board continue the combination of expertise in science and policy for which our board is known,” said Eden. “Scientific knowledge is essential when discussing technological progress and innovation,” added Rosner. “But the ability to analyze policy and cultural ramifications is also essential. The additions of Daniel Holz, Elizabeth Kolbert, and Jon Wolfsthal deepen the board’s ability to consider the consequences of various developments in the ever-changing landscape of technology.”

Daniel Holz is an Associate Professor in Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics, the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on general relativity in the context of astrophysics and cosmology. He is a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) collaboration, and was part of the team that announced the first detection of gravitational waves in early 2016. He received a 2012 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and the 2015 Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2016, and was selected as a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in 2017. Holz received his PhD in physics from the University of Chicago and his AB in physics from Princeton University.

Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999 and has written extensively on science and climate change to great acclaim. Her most recent book, The Sixth Extinction, won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. Kolbert is also known for her book Field Notes From a Catastrophe, based on her three-part series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” which won the 2006 National Magazine Award for Public Interest and the AAAS Advancement of Science Journalism Award. She is also a recipient of a Heinz Award (for educating the public about environmental issues) and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Jon Wolfsthal is the former Special Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security Affairs and senior director at the National Security Council for arms control and nonproliferation. During his time in government he was involved in almost every aspect of U.S. nuclear weapons, arms control, nonproliferation and security policy. Previously, Wolfsthal was the Deputy Director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and served for three years as special advisor to Vice President Biden on issues of nuclear security and nonproliferation. He served in several capacities during the 1990s at the U.S Department of Energy, including an on-the-ground assignment in North Korea during 1995-96. With Joseph Cirincione, he is the author of Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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