WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate physicist Patrick Gallagher to be the 14th director of the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gallagher, 46, is currently the NIST deputy director.
"NIST is a unique agency with a strong culture of world-class scientific achievement," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "Pat Gallagher has come up through the ranks and his continued leadership will be critical to an agency that is central to the nation's ability to innovate and compete in global markets."
If confirmed by the Senate, Gallagher will direct an agency with an annual budget of approximately $800 million that employs approximately 2,900 scientists, engineers, technicians, support staff and administrative personnel at two primary locations: Gaithersburg, Md., and Boulder, Colo. Gallagher will succeed William Jeffrey, who left NIST in 2007.
Though perhaps most widely known as the civilian provider of the nation's standard time service, NIST also conducts research in measurement science, standards and related technologies spanning all physical sciences, engineering and information technology.
The agency also is home to the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a nationwide network of local centers offering technical and business assistance to smaller manufacturers; the Technology Innovation Program, which provides cost-shared awards to industry, universities and consortia for research on potentially revolutionary technologies that address critical national and societal needs; and the Baldrige National Quality Program, which promotes performance excellence among U.S. manufacturers, service companies, educational institutions, health care providers and nonprofit organizations.
Gallagher, who has a doctorate in physics from the University of Pittsburgh, came to the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) in 1993 to pursue research in neutron and X-ray instrumentation and studies of soft-condensed matter systems such as liquids, polymers and gels.
In 2000, Gallagher was a NIST agency representative at the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and became active in U.S. policy for scientific user facilities. In 2006, he was awarded a Department of Commerce Gold Medal, the department's highest award, in recognition of this work. In 2004, he became director of the NCNR, a national user facility for neutron research that is considered one of the most productive and heavily used facilities of its type in the nation. In September 2008, he was appointed deputy director of NIST.
Gallagher is active in a variety of professional organizations and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Founded in 1901, NIST is a nonregulatory agency of the Commerce Department that promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.