By SETH BORENSTEIN
WASHINGTON— When it comes to filling jobs managing complex mathematics, environment and health problems, the Trump management is nominating individuals with fewer mathematics academic qualifications compared to their Obama predecessors. And it’s moving.
Of 43 Trump government nominees in positions — such as two to Health and Human Services secretary — nearly 60 percent did not have a doctorate or a master degree in a medical or science area, according to an Associated Press investigation. Due to their predecessors in the Obama government, it had been nearly the opposite.
The AP examined 65 positions which handle science and environment, many of which have not been filled after 10 months. The study earned amounts, maybe not life experience.
“That is just reflective of the disdain that the government has revealed for mathematics,” said Christie Todd Whitman, a former Republican New Jersey governor and Environmental Protection Agency main.
“When you are talking about mathematics, issues concerning protecting human health. . .it’s very, very complicated and sophisticated work,” said Whitman, who had been appointed by George W. Bush also does not have an advanced level herself but surrounded herself with people who did. “You need the background and experience to handle these things.”
Adding Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price the number of political appointees having a doctorate in mathematics or a medical degree dropped 21 percent to Trump’s 15 in these equal positions. When it has to do with master’s levels, one-third decreased from 27 in Obama to 18 in Trump.
Public health researcher Dr. Caroline Weinberg, who helped organize last spring’s protest March to Science, said in an email, “I knew the dire straits we were but watching it laid out by percentages really amplifies the terror.”
Trump management officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
It is particularly noticeable.
Not one of the seven Trump power science-oriented nominees — such as the undersecretary for mathematics, who did study while in the U.S. Navy — has even a master’s degree in a science field, even though some are lawyers and also have MBAs. Five of the Obama Creator’s had master’s degrees in four and mathematics field had mathematics doctorates — not such as the Obama deputy Power secretary, who also had a doctorate in international relations. The two Obama Energy secretaries both had doctorates in physics, also Steven Chu was a Nobel prize winner in physics. Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry has a bachelor’s degree in animal science and was a former appraiser.
“That is just hollowing from experience in these posts,” stated Max Boykoff, director of Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado. “it is a very worrisome trend.”
This isn’t about creating jobs however, providing the best advice for government leaders who need to make decisions, ” stated CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Rush Holt, the world’s largest general scientific society.
“It’s the policy-makers those who need it. If they want to build policies which are most likely to succeed, they should create those policies with the understanding available of how matters are,” said Holt, a former physicist and Democratic congressman from New Jersey. “We do so together with all the age-old, time-tested process of ascertaining what matters are. We predict that science.”
The undersecretary for study in the Agriculture Department advised the Senate in a confirmation questionnaire that if he had an economics degree, he took no mathematics classes according to his letter obtained by The Washington Post.
Many of the Trump nominees who do have science degrees, especially those in the EPA, come in working in or with all the industries with even some Republicans raising questions that they’re now supposed to regulate. EPA main Scott Pruitt also has raised eyebrows by replacing them with experts and purging scientists in the bureau’s science advisory board since they received EPA grants.
“The design of a repeated tilt toward industry scientists, and people famous for disparaging the listing of these agencies they’re appointed to, is worrisome,” said William K. Reilly, who was EPA administrator under George H.W. Bush.
Reilly, together with several of the over a dozen experts interviewed, stated individuals with scientific experience are important, but there were good government officials previously who have been lawyers. Current EPA main Pruitt is a lawyer.
“A few of the greatest regulators I’ve known have had legislation or business wallpapers (both parties),” John Graham, dean at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said in a email.
Graham, who headed regulatory affairs in the George W. Bush administration, said that he was most concerned that “many vital nominations still haven’t been made” highlighting no appointments to the best White House science advisor and head of research and development at the EPA.
At 35 percent the Trump government hasn’t nominated someone for example all four top positions at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Of the 23 positions that President Donald Trump hasn’t nominated anyone to fulfill after 10 months, even Barack Obama had picked on nominees of these posts by the same time in 2009.
“I really don’t know if the problem is really on the side of them identifying individuals or the folks they want being prepared to experience the procedure” of affirmation, which is disagreeable, stated George Gray, who had been the EPA research leader for President George W. Bush and now is a professor of environmental health at George Washington University.
Initial Obama appointments included two winners of the Nobel Prize for physics — Energy Secretary Chu and Carl Wieman, who had been associate director for science of the White House Office of Science and Technology — and a winner of a MacArthur “genius” award, White House science advisor John Holdren. Obama tried to appoint another Nobel winner, Peter Diamond who won the Nobel prize for mathematics. Republicans in the Senate who said he didn’t have sufficient experience held up this and his nomination was withdrawn.
Associated Press reporters Michael Biesecker, Catherine Lucey, Maureen Linke and Kevin Vineys contributed to the report.
Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears. His work can be discovered.