John H. Gibbons

John H. Gibbons, 1998

John Gibbons (b. 1929) received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry from Randolph-Macon College in 1949 and a doctorate in physics from Duke University in 1954. Following his formal training in physics, he spent the next 15 years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. At Oak Ridge, Gibbons studied the structure of atomic nuclei, with emphasis on the role of neutron capture in the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements in stars. In the late 60s, at the urging of Alvin M. Weinberg, he pioneered studies on how to use technology to conserve energy and minimize the environmental impacts of energy production and consumption. In 1973, Gibbons was appointed the first director of the Federal Office of Energy Conservation.

Two years later he returned to Tennessee to direct the University of Tennessee Energy, Environment and Resources Center. In 1979, he returned to Washington to direct the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, which provided Congress with nonpartisan, comprehensive analyses on a broad spectrum of issues involving technology and public policy where his tenure lasted over two six-year terms prior to his Presidential appointment as Science Advisor on February 2, 1993.

After leaving the White House, Dr. Gibbons served as a Senior Fellow at the National Academy of Engineering, where researched a variety of topics including the new NAE program in Earth Systems Engineering. During 1999-2001 he was Senior Advisor to the U. S. Department of State, where he assisted the Secretary in revitalizing science and technology capabilities, including creating the position of Science Advisor to the Secretary.

Dr. Gibbons is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He was awarded the AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Prize for sustained exceptional contributions to advancing science; the Leo Szilard Award for Physics in the Public Interest from the American Physical Society; and medals from the German and French governments for fostering scientific cooperation. Dr. Gibbons has more than 50 publications on energy and environmental policy. He is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Federation of American Scientists. More information is available at his website.


“Will Science and Technology Contribute to Society, or Scuttle It?” (date unknown) VIDEO
“Governance of Society and Technology: Theory, Myth, Reality” October 22, 1998 VIDEO
“Sustainable Growth: Fantasy or Vision?” April 26, 1999 VIDEO