John Holdren Photo
Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy
79 John F. Kennedy St. Belfer Bldg 321

DR. JOHN P. HOLDREN is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Co-Director of the School’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy program, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Faculty Affiliate in the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science. He is also Visiting Distinguished Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, and Senior Advisor to the President at the Woods Hole Research Center, a pre-eminent scientific think tank focused on the role of the terrestrial biosphere in global climate change. From January 2009 to January 2017, he was President Obama’s Science Advisor and Senate-confirmed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), becoming the longest-serving Science Advisor to the President in the history of the position.

His responsibilities in his White House role included advising the President on all science and technology (S&T) issues bearing on the President’s agenda, including the role of S&T in economic competitiveness and job creation, biomedicine and public health, energy and climate change, the oceans and the Arctic, the Nation’s space program, and national and homeland security. He was also responsible for coordinating R&D strategy and budgets across the Executive Branch departments and agencies; overseeing interagency S&T programs, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program; developing initiatives in STEM education; advancing scientific integrity and openness in government; and representing the U.S. government in interactions with the U.S. and global science and engineering communities.

Dr. Holdren earned S.B. (1965) and S.M. (1966) degrees from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. (1970) from Stanford in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a foreign member of both the Royal Society of London and the Indian National Academy of Engineering and a former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His many other honors include one of the first MacArthur Prizes (1981), the Volvo International Environment Prize (1993), the Tyler Prize for Environment (2000), the Heinz Prize for Public Policy (2001), the Moynihan Prize of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (2018), and six honorary doctorates. In 1995 he gave the acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international organization of scientists and public figures in which he served in leadership positions from 1982 to 1997.

From 1996 through 2008, Dr. Holdren held the same chairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences as he holds today. From 2005 through 2008 he was also President of the Woods Hole Research Center. From 1973 to 1996 he was on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he co-founded and co-led the interdisciplinary graduate-degree program in energy and resources (the Energy and Resources Group). Prior to that he was a theoretical physicist in the Theory Group of the Magnetic Fusion Energy Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a Senior Research Fellow at Caltech in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Caltech Environmental Quality Laboratory. He served from 1991 to 2005 as a member of the Board of Trustees of the MacArthur Foundation and from 1994 to 2005 as Chairman of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control at the National Academy of Sciences. During the Clinton Administration, he served for both terms on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, leading multiple studies for the President on energy-technology innovation and arms control.

Dr. Holdren has been married since 1966 to Dr. Cheryl E. Holdren, a biologist. They have a son, a daughter, and five grandchildren ages 13 to 27. John and Cheryl currently live on Cape Cod.

Transparent Engagement

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School.

Outside Professional Activities For John Holdren

2017 Activities – John Holdren


2/15/2017                       Start of faculty appointments in the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences after leaving the Obama Administration on January 19

2/21/2017                     Keynote remarks, Reception for Board and Friends of the Woods Hole Research Center, Harvard Club of New York (Topic: Science and environment in the Obama Administration); unpaid

2/27/2017                      Distinguished Lecture, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland, College Park, MD (Topic: Science, technology, and environment in the Obama White House); unpaid

2/27/2017                     Guest Lecture, School of Public Affairs course on “Influence of Science on Policy”, University of Maryland, College Park (Topic: Science in the Obama White House); unpaid


3/07/2017                     Invited speaker, VI Retirement Residence, Palo Alto, CA (Topic: Science in government); unpaid

3/07/2017                     Stephen Schneider Memorial Lecture, Stanford University, Stanford, CA (Topic: Science, technology, and environment in the Obama Administration); paid

3/17-3/18/2017               Invited discussant, Meeting of science leaders on restoring the proper roles of science in government, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ; unpaid

3/20/2017                     Guest lecture, HKS IGA-100, “International and Global Affairs” (Topic: Science and technology in international affairs); unpaid

3/21/2017                     Dinner lecture, Harvard University Center for Environment (Topic: Science, technology, and environment in the White House); unpad

3/29/2017                      Keynote address at 40th MIT Global Change Forum, Airlie Conference Center, Warrenton, VA (Topic: An update on climate science and policy); unpaid


4/03/2017                     Panel presentation at the joint meeting of the Trustees of Harvard and Stanford Universities, Loeb House, Harvard (Topic: How should research universities respond to the Trump Administration’s stance on science); unpaid

4/04/2017                      Keynote speaker, Annual Meeting of the Carbon Management Initiative, Princeton University (Topic: Current climate science and policy); unpaid

4/17/2017                      Interview with Neil de Grasse Tyson on his Star Talk Live! radio show in Count Basie Theater, Red Hook, NJ (Topic: Making America smart again); unpaid

4/19/2017                     Invited response to lecture by Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Harvard Science Center, Cambridge, MA; unpaid

4/20/2017                       Radio interview, WBUR, Boston (Topic: Science in government); unpaid

4/21/2017                       Invited speaker, Federation of American Scientists Science & Security Summit, Washington, DC (Topic: The future of nuclear energy); unpaid

4/21/2017                     Distinguished Lecture at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC (Topic: Science and Technology in the White House); unpaid

4/24/2017                     NPR radio interview, “Living Lab” show, WCAI Woods Hole (Topic: Science in government); unpaid

4/28/2017                     Invited remarks, Memorial Symposium for former National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Cicerone, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC; unpaid


5/05/2017                      Award ceremony and speech on receipt of the Gwanghwa Medal (Korean government’s highest award for diplomatic service), Korean Embassy, Washington, DC; unpaid

5/25/2017                     Lecture, Climate Workshop for Outdoor Industry CEOs, Telluride, CO (Topic: Climate change and outdoor recreation); unpaid

5/26/2017                     Keynote Lecture, Telluride Film Festival, Telluride, CO (Topic: The climate-change challenge today); unpaid


6/07/2018                     Luncheon lecture, Annual Meeting of the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, Hyannisport Golf Club (Topic:  Environment and Development on Cape Cod); unpaid

6/18/2017                     Invited lecture, 2017 Vinexpo, Bordeaux, France (Topic: Global climate change and the wine industry); unpaid

6/26/2017                     Invited lecture, Partnership in Education Program, Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, MA (Topic: The climate-change challenge today); unpaid

6/27/2017                     Invited lecture, Harvard Science Policy Group at the Harvard Medical School (Topic: Science and technology in the White House); unpaid


7/12/2017                       Plenary Speaker at Annual Fellows Meeting at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Maryland (Topic: Speaking Science to Power); paid

7/13/2017                       Plenary Address, International Energy Workshop, University of Maryland, College Park (Topic:  The climate-change challenge today); unpaid

7/23/2017                     11th Annual Wheeler Lecture, Quissett Harbor Preservation Trust, Falmouth, MA (Topic:  Climate change and Cape Cod); unpad

7/28/2017                     Remarks on receipt of the Lawrence Huntington Award, Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, MA; unpaid


8/22/2017                     Lecture for HKS National Security Fellows, Kennedy School (Topic: The climate-change challenge today); unpaid

8/26/2017                     Invited lecture, Edgartown Reading Room, Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, MA (Topic: The climate-change challenge); unpaid


9/14-9/17/2017              Discussant, Charlie Rose Weekend, Aspen Institute, Aspen, CO (Topics: Climate Change, Science in Government); unpaid

9/18/2017                      Keynote speaker at iSEE Congress at the University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign. (Topic: The case for investing in climate-change resilience); paid

9/28/2017                     Panel chair before Harvard’s Global Advisory Council (Topic: Exciting research at Harvard); unpaid


10/05/17                      Invited lecture, Upper Cape Democratic Coalition, Falmouth, MA (Topic: Science and environment in the White House); unpaid

10/06/2017                     NOVA videotaping (WGBH public television, Boston) (Topic: Climate change); unpaid

10/09/2017                     Inaugural Address for the Center on Biological Risk, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT (Topic:  Science and environment in the White House); paid

10/13/2017                    Keynote Address, Arctic Circle Convening, Reykjavik, Iceland (Topic:  Arctic climate science and policy); unpaid

10/17/2017                   Lecture, HKS Executive Program on Climate Change and Energy (Topic:  Why the climate-change “luke-warmers” are wrong); unpaid

10/19//2017                   The 2017 Wasan Lecture, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL (Topic: Climate Change and U.S. Interests); paid

10/23/2017                   Invited lecture, Second Nature Board and Friends Reception, Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA (Topic: Climate-challenge update); unpaid

10/26/2017                    Keynote address, Annual Meeting of the World Council of Science Journalists, San Francisco, CA (Topic:  Why the climate-change wafflers are wrong); unpaid


11/06/2017                    90-minute conversation with former Mayor Bloomberg, at his invitation, NYC, NY (Topic:  Science and environment in government); unpaid

11/10/2017                   Opening keynote at Harvard-Tsinghua Workshop on Energy Technology Innovation for Deep Decarbonization, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China (via Skype); unpaid

11/16/2017                    Fireside Chat with Dean Bobby Braun, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, inaugurating his deanship, University of Colorado, Boulder (Topic: Science and technology in government); paid

11/17/2017                   Lecture for “Friends of the Woods Hole Research Center”, Denver, CO (Topic: Science and environment in the White House); unpaid


12/01/2017                   Invited closing remarks, Symposium in Memory of Arthur Rosenfeld, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA; unpaid

12/4/2017                       Video interview, Climate One, San Francisco, CA; unpaid

12/4/2017                       Dinner speech, Miller Institute Fall Meeting, University of California, Berkeley. (Topic: Speaking science to power); paid


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