USDOT Appoints Chief Science Officer

The U.S. Department of Transportation is appointing a chief science officer – the first in more than  40 years – and it is taking other steps to comply with two climate change-focused initiatives issued by President Biden in January.

The first is an executive order aimed at protecting public health and the environment, while the other is a memorandum that calls for “restoring trust in government” through “scientific integrity and “evidence-based” policymaking.

USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement that Robert Hampshire, Ph. D. – currently the agency’s assistant secretary for research and technology – would officially become the department’s chief science officer, serving as the “principal advisor” to the secretary on science and technology issues.

Hampshire previously worked as an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and at both the U-M Transportation Research Institute’s Human Factors group and Michigan Institute for Data Science. Hampshire earned his Ph. D. from Princeton University.

The USDOT is also working to re-establish its Climate Change Center, restoring public access to climate-related reports, program information, and other scientific and technical information, the agency said.

The agency said the Climate Change Center would help it coordinate USDOT research, policies, and actions to support the nation’s transportation sector transition to net-zero carbon emissions.

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