Biden Nominates Asmeret Berhe as Next Director of Office of Science

President Joe Biden has nominated UC Merced Professor Asmeret Asefaw Berhe as the new Director of the Office of Science in the Federal Department of Energy. 

In honor of Earth Day, the White House today announced nominations for various federal positions in Energy departments, Transportation, State, Interior and Commerce as well as for NASA. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the leading federal authority to support basic scientific research in the energy sector and the country’s largest supporter for basic research in the natural sciences. 

Like all the candidates, Berhe must be approved by the United States Senate and can continue to serve for as long as Biden is president. 

Berhe is Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry in the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences in the School Natural Sciences; the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology; and the interim associate Dean for Graduate Education. 

Her research involves intersection of soil science, global change science and political ecology, focusing on how the soil system regulates the earth’s climate and the relationship between the natural environment and human resources. 

Berhe is widely known for her research, including being a guest speaker at the TED conference in 2019, and for her advocacy for inclusion, anti-harassment and anti-bullying. 

She was previously Chair of the U.S. National Committee on Soil Science at the National Academies. She served on the Board of Directors of the Network of Women of Earth Sciences; and is a Co-Principal Investigator in the ADVANCEGeo Association- a National Science Foundation funded initiative to empower scientists to respond to and prevent harassment, discrimination, bulling and other exclusionary behaviors in research environments.She is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, and a member of the United States National Academies’ inaugural class for new voices in science, technology, and medicine. 

Berhe was born and raised in Asmara, Eritrea. She received a Bachelor of Science in Soil and Water Conservation from Asmara University, a Master of Political Ecology from Michigan State University, and a PhD in Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2020, she was named “Great Immigrant, Great American” by Carnegie Corporation of New York.