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Stanford physicist nominated for White House advisory post

President Clinton has announced his intention to nominate Stanford physicist Arthur Bienenstock for the post of associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Bienenstock, 62, is professor of materials science and applied physics at Stanford, associate director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and, since 1978, director of one of its divisions, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL). The linear accelerator center and the synchrotron radiation laboratory are national scientific user facilities funded by the Energy Research Program of the Department of Energy.

The OSTP advises the White House on policy and funding decisions regarding science and technology. John H. Gibbons, OSTP director and assistant to the president for science and technology, said in making the Sept. 25 announcement, "Arthur Bienenstock's impressive experience in research university issues and in managing a major scientific facility makes him ideally suited for this position. Dr. Bienenstock has a strong commitment to ensuring that America remains at the forefront of scientific capability, thereby enhancing not only the quality of life of future generations of Americans, but also our ability to shape and improve the world's future." Bienenstock's nomination will be subject to approval by the Senate.

Bienenstock brings to the post both his own experience as a physicist and 40 years of cooperation with other scientists in government, universities and industry. As director of SSRL, he works with scientists worldwide who use the laboratory's intensely bright beams of synchrotron light to study materials ranging from minute quantities of contaminants in soil to bones ravaged by osteoporosis, to the quality of advanced computer chips produced in nearby Silicon Valley, to the structure of important biological materials.

He also has gained a reputation as a savvy diplomat for science in an era when research must compete with other priorities for a place in the national budget. On two recent occasions, he worked with scientific organizations and OSTP to make the case in budget debates that the Energy Department's scientific facilities are essential resources. He argued that basic scientists and researchers in industry depend upon these unique facilities to do studies that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.

Bienenstock said he was "deeply honored" by the White House nomination. He said, "The only fixed agenda with which I would go to Washington would be to work to ensure the health of American science.

"I believe that the need to understand the world is a very fundamental human attribute, and science is one good way of doing that," he continued. "Beyond that, science is the basis of almost all the medical and technological advances that have enriched our lives in this century."

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who represents Silicon Valley, called Bienenstock an excellent choice for OSTP. "His tremendous knowledge of the scientific community, corporate research needs and the political process should serve him well in Washington," she said.