Science Wednesday: Greetings from a “Strategic Optimist”

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I received a great holiday gift on December 24 when the U.S. Senate confirmed me as the Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD). I am thrilled that President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson have trusted me with this incredible opportunity.

I take great pride in joining EPA’s leadership team, and am eager to get started with the important work ORD does in making a real difference for the American people.

Coming to EPA is kind of a homecoming for me. Over twenty years ago I joined the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances as chief of the industrial chemistry branch, and I’ve been fortunate to keep in touch with my many EPA friends and extraordinary colleagues over the years.

The Office of Research and Development is a cornerstone of this Agency, seen in the fact that both President Obama and Administrator Jackson have emphasized cutting-edge, independent scientific analysis as critical to the work of EPA. We here at ORD have a chance to not only explore innovative solutions to protect our health and the environment, but to reassure the American people that nothing will compromise our commitment to openness and scientific integrity.

As we look toward the 40th anniversary of EPA’s founding, the issues we face are more complex and subtle than they were at our founding—and the need for the best science is greater than ever.

Those who know me well know that I consider myself a “strategic optimist.” That means I bring to the table an ambitious vision, and a firm understanding that we can only get there if we take the correct actions. Identifying those actions will require the best science and technology that ORD has to offer. That is why—like Administrator Jackson—my highest priorities for ORD are the integrity, independence, and transparency of the scientific processes, and the application of this science to the programs throughout EPA.

image of Assistant Administrator Paul AnastasAbout the Author: Prior to his confirmation as the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Paul T. Anastas was the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment at Yale University, where he also served as the director of the Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering. He is widely known as “the Father of Green Chemistry.” Anastas earned his B.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and his M.A. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Brandeis University.