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Copan confirmed as U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology director

Agency will be led by chemist with experience in industry and government

by Andrea Widener
October 13, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 41

Credit: Courtesy of Walter Copan
A photo of Walter Copan.
Credit: Courtesy of Walter Copan

Chemist Walter G. Copan was confirmed by the U.S. Senate earlier this month as the new director of the National Institute of Standards & Technology, becoming only the second NIST chief to come from outside of the organization.

With a long career in both the private and public sector, Copan will bring his experience in entrepreneurship and technology transfer to the federal laboratory.

“Walt is a widely respected scientist, innovator, and administrator with extensive experience in moving research to the market where it can benefit society,” says Antonio Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of college and universities. UCAR officials hope his appointment will bring more cooperation between NIST and the Earth science community. “We look forward to working with him on these scientific challenges.”

In an interview with C&EN shortly after he was nominated, Copan said, “NIST is so central to the U.S. innovation system and to U.S. commerce. It is an organization that I have respected for many years.”

The American Chemical Society, of which Copan is a longtime member, welcomes Copan’s appointment, says spokesperson Glenn S. Ruskin. “His background as a chemist and an entrepreneur will bring a valuable perspective to NIST, and we look forward to working with him.” ACS publishes C&EN.

Copan is expected to be sworn in the week of Oct. 16.


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